Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

11 reasons to vote YES to Seanad abolition.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 2, 2013 in Irish Politics, Seanad Referendum |

1. The current Seanad is undemocratic. it’s made up of professional politicians elected mostly by other professional politicians. It is a club for failed or aspiring professional politicians. Why do you think Seanad elections are scheduled to be held AFTER Dail elections, as opposed to on the same day? To allow them two bites of the cherry. Do we really need to provide politicians with a safety net of a spare job? Do you have one?

2. A NO vote is not a vote for reform. The NO campaign cannot tell you which parties will definitely reform the Seanad. In power, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour, who all have members claiming to support reform, have BLOCKED reform when they were in power. Fine Gael and Labour BLOCKED Seanad reform only earlier this year. The NO campaign is full of ex cabinet ministers who never even attempted to reform the Seanad when they had the power to.

3. The Seanad does not hold the government to account. Don’t believe me, just ask yourself this question: Does Enda fear the Seanad the way Chancellor Merkel fears her senate, or President Obama the US Senate? Or does he even give a toss?

4. Many Seanad reformers showed little interest in Seanad reform until the abolition of the Seanad became a serious possibility. I wonder why?

5. The NO campaign talk about the Seanad in theoretical terms, about what a ideal Seanad should be doing. The YES campaign ask people just to look at the Seanad as it actually is, whether it is graphically describing the Taoiseach’s toilet habits, Facebook “fraping”, Hitler, or fannies.

6. If the Seanad is as important as the NO campaign believe, if we vote YES to abolish, it’ll force the professional politicians to come back to us at the next election with serious proposals for a new reformed Seanad. We’ve done this before, when De Valera abolished the Seanad, and replaced it with a new Seanad in the 1930s.

7. Ask Seanad reformers why, if they are so sure that a NO vote will  automatically lead to Seanad Reform, why they won’t, on principle, rule out serving in an unreformed future Seanad. You’ll get a lot of “That’s not the issue!” guff.

8. You as an ordinary voter have the power to abolish this corrupt, undemocratic Seanad on your ballot paper. That’s why the professional politicians are promising all sorts of reform. If you vote to keep the Seanad, you give them back their power.

9. Voting NO will not harm the government. When was the last time you voted for a party based on the result of a referendum held years before?

10. The Seanad is so full of party hacks that they didn’t even have the guts to vote against their own abolition. So much for standing up to the government.

11. A NO vote will be hijacked by the professional politicians as a vote of confidence in the Seanad as it currently stands, and will be used to oppose reform. They will claim that the Irish people have voted against change, and to keep the Seanad as it is.

7 Comments

Dan Boyle
Sep 2, 2013 at 8:59 am

1. Yes it is. An argument for reform not abolition. Seanad election should be on the same day as the Dáil.

2. This will be the first time that the public will have voted for reform of the Seanad, or indeed have had the opportunity to do so. The political system of seeking such reform. The political system would have to reform to such a call.

3. It shouldn’t be the job of the Seanad to keep the government to account that’s the job of the Dáil. Second chamber is to greater and more detailed consideration to legislation.

4. Not true. Many of us have long believed and have called for a reformed Seanad.

5. Again exaggeration. Everyone believes the the Seanad as it currently is is not fit for purpose. That doesn’t deny that even in ints flawed state it has played an important role in shaping legislation.

6. The original Seanad was voted out of existence by the Dáil not by the people. This is the first opportunity the people have had to vote on what the Seanad is and what it should be. If voted out it won’t come back.

7a. Reform is what needed but even an unreformed Seanad is better than no Seanad.

7b. The power given through a Yes vote will be given to a political elite that will become less democratic and less accountable.

8. Of course it will. This is a cynical proposal by voting against it voters show up the poverty of the government’s thinking. Just as they did with the arrogant attempt to turn Oireachtas committees into star chambers. It should show how hollow and insincere the government’s ‘reform’ programme is.

9. Party hacks exists in every and any political structure. There are also independent committed effective people in the Seanad.

10. No it won’t. A No vote should be seen as a vote of no confidence in our political system leading to not only reform of the Seanad but also of the Dáil itself.


 
Paraic Hegarty
Sep 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

I was going to do a point-by-ponit rebuttal but Dan got there before me. So suffice it to say I agree with what he has said.

A point that should be made is that we’re being asked artificially to choose between abolition and retention when what is required is reform. If the Seanad is abolished, there will be no reform but if it is retained, there *may* be.


 
Brendan
Sep 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm

I have a simple philosophy, if Enda Kenny supports it, then I’m against it. I want Mayo to lose the All-Ireland. I want the government to lose the referendum on the Seanad. Aboloshing the Seanad will have no impact on Dail reform. The government will never give up its control and backbenchers are too craven to accept their proper legislative responsibility.


 
mack
Sep 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Dan Boyle, it’s hard to take you seriously when your very second point is completely untrue. If you are going to present an argument, surely you should actually do some basic research?

2. In 1979 the Irish people by 93-7% voted for the 7th Amendment to the Constitution, which provided that the Oireachtas could expand the university panel beyond the existing NUI and Dubli University/TCD panel (with existing 3 Senators each) to include more universities, with 6 university representatives in total.


 
Declan
Sep 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm

1 – “The current Seanad is undemocratic”, very true. “To allow them two bites of the cherry”, In certain cases this is true, ie Dan Boyle, in other cases it is payday from the party to party supporters. “Do we really need to provide politicians with a safety net”, NO! And this id where reform should come. Your first point, while some what true, it is selective and therefore hit and miss.

2 – “A NO vote is not a vote for reform”, Very true! Now show me where it says a “YES” vote will bring or force reform? The question asked here is simple “Do you wish to abolish the Seanad?”

3 – The Seanad was never designed to hold the government accountable, its is designed the protect the citizens of the state from stupid bill that would otherwise be unjust. This how ever doesn’t always work since the government has an in build mechanism to render it in it’s favor. Not what it was designed for, but what it has being bastardized into, but yes it should keep the governments in check through legislation being put forward for check.

4 – As Dan Boyle says, “Not true. Many of us have long believed and have called for a reformed Seanad”. Ah? When? I will agree with you there, but it is still not a valid point or reason for me and others to vote “YES”.

5 – Here I have to agree with Dan Boyle, “even in ints flawed state it has played an important role in shaping legislation”, by the way Dan two words “SPELL CHECK!”.

6 – Again Point to Dan!

7 – Point to Jason there Dan. As you have said before Dan, “I was just as entitled to accept a nomination as any other citizen. No one elected to the Dáil gets a majority of votes. Those elected are those with the biggest minorities. I did it, I would do it again and I was proud to have done it”, That was in response to a statement of mine, “Where any party is in power and needs representation in the higher house, all well and good, but it should not be from a TD who has already recieve a mandate of “no repersentation” in the lower house, no matter where they’re loyalities lay or to which party” September 3rd 2012 https://www.facebook.com/plaindanboyle?ref=ts&fref=ts

8 – “You as an ordinary voter have the power to abolish”, true. “If you vote to keep the Seanad, you give them back their power”, not true since at present power is with the Dail. As for “the poverty of the government’s thinking” ….. REALLY! Pot, kettle, black Dan. Civil partnership bill. A bill that renders cohabiting fathers in non-registered relationships with children second class citizens in their own country. We do not have the same rights for tax purposes as married, registered heterosexual or same sex registered couples, but yet classed a cohabiting for social welfare benefits. As David McWilliams would say, “follow the money”.

9 – This is true, but if its the government you wish to hurt then vote them out of office.

10 – Point taken! That only shows the caliber of politician we have in this country. Tell me would you turn your nose up to 60k a year gig for just 120 days work and perks?

11 – A “NO” vote should be see as a call out that the government will not have it all it’s own way, it will be challenged and the Seanad is there to protect Irish citizens from ill conceived legislation. It should not be allowed to be hijacked by politicians who would use this platform to push their party’s or their agenda for campaigning purposes.

Yes Jason the Seanad need reform, but voting for it to be abolish is not the way forward. No Seanad means no check on government when it comes to bills being put through. It also means the Government is insulated away from the citizens of the state. Do as we say and don’t question us!


 
Eoin Neylon
Sep 12, 2013 at 12:19 am

1. This is a case for reform, not abolition.

2. A No vote does not oblige the Government to reform but how could they not seeing as their whole argument is that it currently isn’t fit for purpose. No side agree it’s not but see reform as the way forward, not abolition. At the end of the day, if this Government don’t want to be openly seen to be massive hypocrites then they’ll simply HAVE to reform after a no vote.

3. The main reason Enda is choosing to keep this campaign promise (as opposed to all the ones his Government has broken) is that the Seanad is the only arm of the Oireachtas he does fear. It’s the only place where the Government can’t railroad legislation and where the Government hasn’t had to rise a sweat is getting its way in the Dáil, it has in fact LOST votes in the Seanad. It’s a pain in his side and this is the main reason he wants it gone now all of a sudden more than half the way through his term.

4. I’ve always support wide ranging political reform ever since I first got involved. I’ve no idea who you’re referencing and can only speak for myself. Claiming to know the majority of players in the reform camp and their views on this going back is a gross exaggeration however.

5. Reformers have to look at the theoretical as if it already existed then it wouldn’t be a theory, it would be the reality. The reality is we have a broken system and an undemocratic Seanad. The theoretical best way to fix both is to reform the Seanad. This is simple logic.

6. Preposterous argument. If the people choose to get rid of it, it’s gone and it’s not coming back. We’re governed by a constitution only the people can change. If they change it to remove a branch of the Oireachtas that is their decision and politicians will have to respect that. I’ll reiterate: Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back.
(As Dan pointed out, the Dev 1930′s scenario is moot as the people were not involved in that decision. It was pre Bunreacht na hÉireann and the Dáil scrapped the Seanad).

7. Political reality check: No vote happens and this Government miraculously has the audacity not even I think they’re capable of and don’t reform. We then face a General Election under the same rules as last time. Surely then people should run for such an institution such that they can win the majority of seats (needed in BOTH houses) in order to get their reform agenda passed. That’s the political reality of such a situation. If no reformers get into the Seanad in such a scenario then reform CAN’T happen (or at least is slowed down to a smails pace as the unreformed Seanad frustrates the Government).

8. If you vote to abolish you ensure that the “political class” (not a tern I like or advocate the use of but has a purpose here) is even more elite with even fewer people in a position to ask questions of the Government of the day. You have the power to Vote NO however and back the Government into a position where they’ll have to provide real reform to the people as opposed to the power grab they are currently window dressing as a reform package.

9. Voting No will harm the Government. It will show that their “reform” agenda up for the joke it is. It will mean that they can’t scrap the Seanad meaning, if they hope to get re-elected themselves in 2 and a half years, they’ll have to reform as the people wish. Further more, given that the 2 coalition parties face hammering defeats in next years local elections, they can’t possible leave the Seanad as it currently is as their hopes of retaining a majority in the Upper House would be severely under threat.

10. Another reason to reform and change the way it’s elected. Open it up to the people.

11. Hyperbole designed to scare people Jason. Absolutely no foundation. If there was even one player in this debate calling for retention in its current form indefinitely then you may have cause for concern however no one (and I mean NO ONE) in this debate has said that the current Seanad is flawed and needs to change. The choice is, in reality (and not the theory you seem to despise), between abolishing the Seanad with a Yes vote and saving the Seanad thereby forcing the Government to actually reform it and with it actually change the way we do politics with a No vote.

I know which of those I want; I’m voting NO on October 4th.


 
Jamie
Oct 2, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Given that the government recently circumvented the democratic process by calling a ‘whip vote’ to force through a bill into law, claiming that an elected official’s responsibility is to a party as opposed to their constituents, launching a proposal for the abolition of the Seanad comes as a disturbing step only a week later. Without a Seanad, then any whim of a majority leader in the Dail is only a ‘whip vote’ and a Presidential signature away from becoming constitutional law. What if a majority leader decided to call for the abolition of term limits, opposition parties or just decided to grant emergency powers to the position of An Taoiseach. It’s not that I wouldn’t trust An Taoiseach Kenny with this power, but he has displayed an amazing method of how a majority party can force through legislation. If anyone fancies looking up “Gleichschaltung” and how the National Socialist Worker’s Party of Germany became a fascist organisation during the 20 months that followed Hitler’s appointment to German Chancellor, then you will see that there is always a ‘worst case scenario’ that can arise from a lack of ‘checks and balances’ in any government.
I know it is not democratic and it is elitist, but that is the way it was always supposed to be. The notion of ‘guardianship’ goes back to Ancient Greece and Plato. The democratically elected officials are in the Dail. The Seanad is only there to protect the Irish people from ill-conceived and populist legislation….RANT OVER!!!


 

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