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

Enda’s Get-Out-Of-Jail Senate card?

Posted by Jason O on Apr 30, 2011 in Irish Politics

Let’s be honest: We all know that Enda doesn’t really want to abolish the Seanad. In fact, there’s hardly anyone in politics who wants to. But the Taoiseach has boxed himself into a corner on it, and if he fails to deliver, it will be hung around his neck as a serious indictment of his integrity.

 Yet, there’s another way out, where he can keep his parliamentary party (including his new 18 senators) happy whilst keeping his word.

Supposing Enda were to suggest to the people a Seanad reform package. It would, I suspect, have to be pretty radical, if it were to be passed. Say it involved a considerably smaller Seanad that was directly elected, possibly on genuine vocation lines. Say it permitted every voter to affiliate to a specific vocational panel, and elect senators on that basis. The councillors et al would kick up, as they will against everything but the status quo, but it would still give them a chance of being elected, running as candidates endorsed by the Vinters or the IFA or the ICMSA or SIPTU, and is better than being abolished.

But here’s the magic bit: Enda declares that if the reform proposal is rejected in the referendum, he will then put a referendum at the next local or general election to abolish the Seanad, as promised. This allows him to force his PP to sign up to a radical reform, and also encourages them to go out into the country and sell it, knowing full well that a No vote will trigger an abolition referendum. It’s a thought.

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