Watching some of the debate on Sen. John Crown’s senate reform bill is an assured way of convincing oneself about abolishing the Seanad. In the debate, it becomes very clear that there are two types of senator. Those who actually want reform, and those who mouth off about it, and as ever in Ireland, the proximity to the ability to do anything about it affects one’s belief.
FF (the single biggest opponents to reform when they had the ability to actually do it) FG and Labour senators spoke about the need for reform as if it were an abstract thing to be decided by some Irish legislature somewhere else, and certainly not by them. Bizarrely, they seem to be hoping that the people will vote no to abolition in October and thus allow another 50 years of leisurely guff on reform. It is mealy mouthed and two faced.
The truth is that most of what the Seanad does is a waste of time. The FF, FG and Labour senators never rebel, even on this issue, which drives a coach and horses through the checks and balances argument they make. They don’t actually check or balance anything.
Sen. Crown has held off on putting his bill to a vote, presumably because some in FG and Lab may be willing to break ranks. Fair enough. He’s entitled to the benefit of the doubt. But I won’t hold my breath, and a Seanad that is unwilling to reform itself deserves to be abolished in October. Because, and don’t forget this: a vote to retain the unCrowned Seanad is not a vote for reform, it is an endorsement of the Seanad as it is today, and will be lauded as such by senators as an argument against reform after October.