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

Senators call on imaginary other senate to reform senate.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 7, 2013 in Irish Politics |

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.

 

2 Comments

Peggy
Mar 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm

ALL of what the Senate spposedly does is a waste of time, money and attention. We shouldn’t even bother ignoring it.


 
Neville Bagnall
Mar 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I’m also frustrated with the pathetic measures that have passed for a reform agenda. Since it seems that expecting a government to pass real political reform is naive, and expecting the electorate to abandon traditional party loyalties is, in my opinion, foolish, I propose the following.

1. Those serious about reform from the wider non-party political sphere develop a “bare essentials” reform agenda
The Agenda should include:
– Oireachtas reforms that have broad support, to include a powerful legislative review committee
– A proper and comprehensive constitutional convention structure and agenda
– A multi-year, looping and comprehensive legislative review timetable for the committee

2. The agenda should be converted into a small series of Oireachtas motions and Bills that could be passed within 6 months at most.

3. The reforms must be constitutionally sound, concentrate on Oireachtas procedures and privileges, but require cross party support to undo (i.e. the opposition must have a veto). It should aim to embed an impetus to oversight and analysis.

4. Candidates should be identified for all Dáil seats who will support the Agenda.

5. Candidates must commit themselves to pass the reform agenda unchanged within a minimum time of being elected. Candidates must commit themselves to resign their seat or vote for a dissolution of the Dáil as soon as the agenda is passed or within 1 month of the failure to pass or bring to a vote an agenda item.

6. Three former senior politicians should be identified as Candidates who can occupy the roles of Taoiseach, Minister of Finance and Minister of Justice. In the event that they fail to be elected they will be appointed as advisers. Other experienced persons should be identified as Ministers or advisers.

7. Run an electoral campaign on the basis of Get in, Start the reforms rolling, Get out.

We can’t expect career politicians to be reformers and we can’t expect reformers to be career politicians. Both have their place. What I’m proposing gives the electorate a clear opportunity to reform the system without buying a pig-in-a-poke for five years.

Thoughts?


 

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