In a week when Enda Kenny finally abandoned the claim that abolishing
the Seanad would save €100 million, it is incredible to hear local TD
Seán Kyne peddling that same claim and other misinformation to the
people of Galway.
Abolishing the Seanad will not save €100 million over five years. In
January 2012, the civil service accounting officer for the Oireachtas
said the true figure is less than €10 million a year. Nor will abolition
ensure an extra €100 million for schools, hospitals and disability
services, as the Government claims. That will not happen because within
a week of this referendum, the Government will take another €3.1 billion
out of the economy, much of it from the schools, hospitals and
disability services they are promising to protect if people vote for
this particular political ‘reform’.
The Government are on firmer ground when they say cutting the number of
national politicians by 30% would bring us into line with other
countries in Europe. So, why not axe 60 TDs instead of 60 Senators? And
at the same time, reform local government to make it like other
countries in Europe, where local powers belong to local people.
The claim that the Seanad is ineffective because there’s nothing it does
that the Dail could not do, is also wrong. In every country bar Italy,
the upper house of parliament can only delay, not veto, legislation. The
value it adds is in ensuring that a bill which has been poorly drafted,
or guillotined through the lower house, gets a second look. This year
alone, the Seanad made 540 amendments to legislation passed by the Dail.
It has also initiated its own bills to make the Government spend more
responsibly, address the mortgage crisis, and separate utility and
Bribing vulnerable citizens with false promises on schools, hospitals
and disability services is unfair when another €3.1 billion in taxes and
cuts will create chaos for struggling public services. Bullying
sovereign voters by refusing meaningful political reform if we don’t
vote the ‘right’ way on the Seanad is demeaning of our political rights.
Yes, the Seanad is less effective than the Constitution intended. But
the only way the Seanad can be reformed is if the Dail allows it. That’s
why the reform option should be put alongside the yes / no question. Let
the people decide.