Just so you know, we are voting NO next Friday to the referendum on abolishing the Seanad. The government says the Seanad should be abolished, we say it should be reformed. Poet Theo Dorgan has a very good article on the matter in this weekend’s Irish Times (Sept 28). He hits the nail on the head when he says that the government likes its power to be of the autocratic kind, getting close to, if nor quite arriving at, “una duce, una voce”. Just look at what happened those TDs who, over the past year, refused to follow the whip – a case of Enda Kenny saying “Boys, it’s my way or the highway”. Theo Dorgan outlines how a group of four decides on what you can and cannot say and tells you how you are going to vote on any issue. This group of four, in essence, carries out the wish of the Taoiseach, the all-powerful-he-who-brooks-no-dissent figure at the top of the pyramid. Does that sound like democracy to you? The suggestion that functions presently carried out by the Seanad – those not gotten rid of – would pass to Dáil committees simply does not hold up. Those committees will always give the answer that’s expected of them … or else!
Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan has said: “The Taoiseach’s proposal for abolishing the Seanad is a short-sighted non-fix of our political system which is broken and in great need of reform; abolishing the Seanad will leave us merely with a dysfunctional Dáil … This matter should have been sent to the constitutional convention for in-depth consideration … The Taoiseach’s implication that abolishing this house will address the misguided ways of the Celtic Tiger is pure populism.” The fact that the Taoiseach has stated that if the people vote against getting rid of the Senate then nothing further will be done is not just stupid, it’s insulting.
We are voting NO to the abolition of the Seanad and we encourage you to do likewise. We say to the government: give us an upper house that is truly representative of the people, one that works. And stop looking for populist knee-jerk fixes that takes power from the many and puts it in the hands of the very few.
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