The High Court has heard that, if COVID-19 had broken out after the Seanad election, emergency public health laws could not have been passed in this country.
An action to clarify whether the Seanad can sit without the Taoiseach's 11 nominees is underway before three judges.
It has been taken by 10 senators who want a declaration that the current Seanad is valid and can sit without the nominees.
They say it is urgent because important legislation, including the running of the Special Criminal Court, will lapse if not renewed by Monday.
The State argues that the Seanad can’t meet until the full 60 members are appointed.
The Taoiseach's 11 nominees have not been appointed as the Dáil has yet to elect anyone to the top job.
Senior Counsel for the senators John Rogers told the court the Seanad hasn't sat for 74 days – and noted that the outgoing Seanad enacted laws, including emergency COVID-19 legislation, with the Dáil of an incoming Oireachtas.
He asked the court to imagine if COVID-19 had broken out on April 4th, after the election of the new Seanad.
He said it is only by the grace of the divine that the COVID emergency occurred before the Seanad polling date, because those emergency laws could not be secured by a government now.
The group of ten senators includes former Attorney General Michael McDowell, Labour’s Seanad leader Ivana Bacik and Galway Senator Gerard Craughwell.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning Senator Craughwell said he hopes the case will ensure the country does not find itself in the same position in the future.
“What we need to do is to establish that from here on, this issue will never again arise,” he said.
“The two houses are separate houses. They have their own standing orders; they have their own rules and we should not be subservient to a Dáil that can’t make up its own mind about how it wants to rule.
“We are here. We are ready to work.”
He said the current situation makes a “farce” of the legislative process and warned that the Seanad should not be “subservient to the Dáil and waiting for the Dáil to do its business.”
You can listen back to the full interview here:
Reporting from Shane Beatty at the High Court