Senator John Crown makes a good case for reforming the Seanad in his piece here in the Sunday Independent. What I really agree with is the point that Seanad reform has to happen BEFORE the referendum if the Seanad is to be “saved”, which is right on the money. For my own part, if the reform hasn’t occurred by polling day I’ll be voting to abolish, because I just won’t believe promises of reform from professional politicians any more.
Will it be enough to save the Seanad? I’m sceptical, to be honest. The professional political class has dirtied its own bib so much with its bad behaviour that the public will be loath to miss an opportunity to get rid of 60 of the bastards. The pols have been so self-serving that any argument about democracy, keeping the executive in check, etc, are all valid arguments save when they come from lying, cheating will-say-anything self-serving office holders. We just can’t believe them because they have given us no reason to, having blocked almost every meaning reform and attempted to replace them with nonsense. Reducing the presidential term of office. Oh please.
Having said that, Enda still has to get abolition through the Oireachtas, which will be interesting. If the Seanad can’t even pass a reform bill against the will of the govt whips to save itself, its own checks and balances argument is bollocks. But how does he get senators and TDs (who seen the upper house as an insurance policy against election defeat in their Dail constituencies) to vote it through?
Here’s a guess: he’ll announce that even if it is abolished in a referendum, for various “legal and constitutional” reasons (read: guff) the Seanad will cease to exist at the dissolution of the NEXT Dail, giving pols a final 7 1/2 pensionable years to ease the pain. And just imagine what the last term of the Seanad would be like, freed from having to suck up to county councillors anymore. What’s the bets that most of the Seanad will spend its time in the US leaching off their titles on one final taxpayer funded upper house Bunga Bunga party?