The Farcical Arguments For Keeping The Seanad.

Don’t vote it only encourages them. An overwhelming 99% of the voting population don’t vote in the Seanad elections, but some of our Senators need no encouragement. Some people will talk till they are blue in the face. Seanad Éireann will talk till it is green white and gold in the face. It can be a place where the air is full of speeches and vice versa.

Those campaigning to save the Seanad (mostly Fianna Fáil fan boys, back room hacks and former special advisors)  portray the Seanad as protectors of our democracy, saviours of the Republic and give the impression the country would cease to function without it.

IT IS A POWER GRAB !

No it is not. Your local authority county manager has more power than all the elective brains in the Seanad. In fact – there are unelected quangos with more power than the Seanad. The one and only power it does have, is the power to delay bills. This has only occurred twice since 1937. Once in 1959 when the Seanad rejected the third amendment to the constitution bill, which would have changed our voting system to ‘first past the post’.

Again on the 1st of July 1964 Seanad Éireann rejected the Pawnbrokers Bill. Comically the Senators voted against the bill by accident, 15 votes to 14, the other 31 Senators were off attending to other urgent matters one presumes. On the day, one Senator, Professor Micheal Hayes of UCD, famously voted against the bill because of the ministers ‘insolent attitude’. The Minister was Charles Haughey, whom we all know took insolence to whole new levels in later decades.

In both instances the Dáil passed the requisite motion deeming the legislation to have been passed. Which translates into, the Seanad is talking shop with no powers to do actually anything. It never has had those powers and never will. The argument that abolishment is power grab, is at best ignorant of Seanad history and at worst just a plain old lie. Political truths and Fianna Fáil have never been comfortable bedfellows though.  The facts speak for themselves there is no power to grab.

VO NO TO MAKE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE !

The argument goes like this – Government has the biggest majority in the history of the State. Abolishing the Seanad will only make the Government even more powerful.

This may come as a bit of a surprise to the geniuses who thought this was an argument. No matter how big the overall majority, power rests solely with cabinet and select civil service mandarins. In our nine decades of independent democracy when has the Seanad held the bad decisions of ministers to account ? PPARS ? nope. E-voting fiasco ? nope. Night of the bank guarantee ? nope. There are only two groups of society that can ultimately hold politicians to account. The media and the voter.

VOTE NO TO REVIVE THE ECONOMY !

This argument is so stupid, and when I say stupid, I mean its up there with drink driving stupid. I’m not even sure where to start. How many economic crises have we had in Ireland ? One a decade since independence, how many times has the Seanad revived the economy ? Do they plan on running around the offices of the ECB with defibrillators ?

DEMOCRACY WILL SUFFER !

Only 1% of our population has voted in the Seanad elections and 90% of those are elected by politicians. So lets just recap, the abolishment of a talking shop with no powers to enhance our democracy and has never acted to hold anyone to account, will cause democracy to suffer ? The democracy deficit lies within a chamber that only 1% of the population vote for. Joe public can’t vote a Senator out of office but they can vote a TD out. Democracy matters eh !

The loudest proponents for keeping the Seanad apart from the turkeys themselves are Fianna Fáil. This despite Michael Martin wanting to abolish the Seanad back in 2011. Former Fianna Fáil special advisors, back room and corner boys have been especially vocal in calling for the Seanad to be kept.

Why ? Because Fianna Fáil has ruthlessly used the Seanad as a political nursery for future TD’s and a nursing home for those that did the party some service. And the proof ? Bertie’s nominees for the 23rd Seanad were all party hacks, apart from Eoghan Harris, who was rewarded for services rendered.

6 of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s nominees in the 24th Seanad are Independents. Thats more Independents appointed than all of the previous 25 years put together.

The 22nd Seanad.

22nd seanad

21st Seanad.

21st seanad

20th Seanad.

20th seanad

Screenshots from www.electionsireland.org

The last great reason you are being told to ‘vote no’, is for reform. Should the Dáil be reformed ? absolutely. Should a handful of ministers be allowed to dictate without proper scrutiny ? Absolutely not.

We are not being asked to vote for reform. We are being asked to abolish or keep it.

The campaign to save the Seanad  is promising to build you a bridge even where there is no river.

I will be voting to keep the Seanad. But not for any of those farcical reasons outlined above that are being used by the Yes campaign.

Our current Seanad has some excellent Senators across all divides, it has a long and proud history of fine oratory and campaigning on social issues. Is that a good enough reason for keeping it ? Probably not, but thats my own reason.

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About Paul Duggan

Politics, humour, Liberal, Curmudgeon, Rogue. Creator and author of Irish Shades of Grey.
This entry was posted in Irish current affairs, Irish Politics, Seanad and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Farcical Arguments For Keeping The Seanad.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I would be in favour of abolishing the senad on 2 conditions only
    Firstly ban party whips. All Dail members should be independent and vote in the interest of the country rather than a party. TD’s can be members of political parties but must retain their independence and freedom within the chamber. TD’s who adhere to a whip instruction should automatically loose their seat and the party issuing the Whip prosecuted.
    Secondly No member of the government should sit in the Dail. TD’s can be appointed to govenmnent minister but must resign their seat. The seat can be left vacant and should the minister leave office he/she can reclaim their dail seat.
    Both of these changes will make the Dail truely independent of government and out of its influence. Government misisters will be compelled to persuade dail members on the merits of their proposals in order to have legislation passed.

  2. hugh says:

    I would be in favour of abolishing the senad on 2 conditions only
    Firstly ban party whips. All Dail members should be independent and vote in the interest of the country rather than a party. TD’s can be members of political parties but must retain their independence and freedom within the chamber. TD’s who adhere to a whip instruction should automatically loose their seat and the party issuing the Whip prosecuted.
    Secondly No member of the government should sit in the Dail. TD’s can be appointed to govenmnent minister but must resign their seat. The seat can be left vacant and should the minister leave office he/she can reclaim their dail seat.
    Both of these changes will make the Dail truely independent of government and out of its influence. Government misisters will be compelled to persuade dail members on the merits of their proposals in order to have legislation passed.

  3. Pingback: The most bizarre moments from the Seanad so far this year. (video) | It Only Encourages Them

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