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

Seanad: The No side have a dream. The Yes side have an objective.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 6, 2013 in Irish Politics, Seanad Referendum

One thing that has struck me during the Seanad debate is the fact that both sides seem to be operating in different but parallel political environments.

The No side tend to speak to a very idealistic vision, talking about the Seanad as it could and indeed should be, what it could look like, and what it could do when it got there, noble public servants passionately debating the People’s business and the common good.

The Yes side live in the same political environment as Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.

The No side (perhaps because there are far more politicians openly campaigning on the No side, as many FG/Lab office holders seem to secretly agree with the No side) see many politicians as noble, diligent reformers. The Yes side, especially the non-political people, have a much lower faith in politicians.

The No side seems to be much more patient, and happy to wait for reform, whenever it may occur. They almost rub their hands with glee at the prospects of year after year of summer school debate on vocational panels and closed lists. The Yes side want the clean definite result of abolition decided on October 4th.

The No side believe that the parties can be shamed into accepting the need for Seanad Reform. The Yes side have met our parties. Watching them carve up, for example, the European constituencies for party benefit, as opposed to having a single constituency which offers the widest choice to all voters. These are the people the No side believes will do the right thing.

The Yes side is, shall we say, sceptical.


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.

Copyright © 2021 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.