Taoiseach’s Seanad Nominees announced

Seanad_Alan-BetsonThis evening the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees to Seanad Eireann were announced. They are as follows:

  • Paudie Coffey (former Senator, Dáil Deputy and Minister of State)
  • Joan Freeman (Founder of Pieta House)
  • Michelle Mulherin (former Dáil Deputy)
  • Ray Butler (former Dáil Deputy)
  • Frank Feighan (former Senator and Dáil Deputy)
  • John O’Mahony (former Dáil Deputy)
  • Dr James Reilly (Former TD and Minister)
  • Billy Lawless (advocate for Irish immigrants in the U.S.)
  • Colette Kelleher (CEO Alzheimers Ireland)
  • Pádraig Ó Céidigh (Businessman)
  • Marie-Louise O’Donnell (Former Senator)

Joan Freeman, Colette Kelleher and Pádraig Ó Céidigh were all nominated by the request of Fianna Fail.

One are that has been completely overlooked is that now Tipperary is the only county in Ireland which does not have a Fine Gael national representative. This will make it hard for Fine Gael to regain a seat in this constituency.

The first meeting of the new Seanad will take place on Wednesday 8 June at 3pm.

Ministers of State Announced

ministersofstate2016Today an Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the appointments of Junior Ministers which were agreed at Cabinet today. They are as follows

  • Minister of State for European Affairs, Data Protection and the E.U. Single Digital Market– Dara Murphy, Cork North Central, (Departments of the Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Justice and Equality)
  • Minister of State for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement – Eoghan Murphy, Dublin Bay South, (Departments of Finance, and Public Expenditure and Reform)
  • Minister of State for Tourism and Sport – Patrick O’Donovan, Limerick County, (Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport)
  • Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal – Damien English, Meath West, (Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government)
    5. Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources – Sean Kyne, Galway West, (Departments of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, and Climate Change, Communications and Natural Resources)
  • Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture – Andrew Doyle, Wicklow, (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine)
  • Minister of State for Employment and Small Business– Pat Breen, Clare, (Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)
  • Minister of State for Training and Skills – John Halligan, Waterford, (Departments of Education, and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)
  • Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People – Helen McEntee, Meath East, (Department of Health)
  • Minister of State for Health Promotion – Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Offaly, (Department of Health)
  • Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief– Sean Canney, Galway East, (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform)
  • Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid – Joe McHugh, Donegal (Departments of the Taoiseach, and Foreign Affairs and Trade)
  • Regional Economic Development – Michael Ring, Mayo, (Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht)
  • Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy– Catherine Byrne, Dublin South-Central, (Health, and Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht)
  • Minister of State for Justice with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration, and Integration – David Stanton, Cork East, (Department of Justice and Equality)

    These appointments are in addition to the three Ministers of State who were appointed when the Government was formed – Regina Doherty, Finian McGrath and Paul Kehoe.

The total number of Junior Ministers now stand at 18. Of those 3 are Independent TDs (Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Sean Canney) and the other 15 are members of Fine Gael.

Ireland to get a new Government

Enda Kenny is set to make history on today when he is re-elected Taoiseach, the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to do so. Dáil Eireann will meet today at 12pm to vote on the nomination following the successful negotiations with Fianna Fail and Independent TDs.

After first negotiating a Confidence and Supply Agreement in the ‘Trinity Talks’ with Fianna Fáil, a series of deals were then completed with a range of Independent TDs. Some Independent TDs including Dublin South West TD Katherine Zappone, Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughton and Dublin Rathdown TD Shane Ross are also expected to made ministers. Continue reading “Ireland to get a new Government”

The New European Parliament

eu flagsFollowing last month’s European Elections the European Parliament will meet on July 1st to constitute itself and elect its new President. Most commentators expect that the two largest groups, the European People’s Party and the Socialist and Democrats, will continue their alliance and split the presidency again between them.

So how did the groups fair? 

The European Parliament now consists of 751 MEPs down 15 from the 766 MEPs in the last parliament. There has been some changes of Group compositions with newly elected parties and independents joining groups and some parties changing groups. The Groups now stand as follows:

  • EPP: 221 (-53)
  • S&D: 191 (-4)
  • ECR: 63 (+7)
  • ALDE: 59 (-26)
  • Greens/EFA: 54 (-4)
  • GUE/NGL: 52 (+17)
  • EFD: 32 (-1)
  • NI: 79

In Ireland Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein have remained with their respective groups (EPP, S&D & GUE/NGL) and Independent Marian Harkin has also remained with ALDE.

Independent Nessa Childers has been readmitted to the S&D Group ensuring they are represented in every member state after Labour’s wipe-out at the elections. Independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagen has joined Sinn Fein in the GUE/NGL group. The Socialist Party failed to retain it’s MEP.

That means the groups stand as follows in the Irish Delegation:

  • EPP: 4 (-)
  • S&D: 1 (-2)
  • ALDE: 2 (-2)
  • GUE/NGL: 4 (+4)

Commission President – Parliament v European Council

After electing the President and 14 Vice Presidents of the Parliament the next task will be voting for the European Commission President. While the EPP and S&D leadership are backing Jean Claude-Juncker they dont have complete control of their groups. With UK Labour opposing Junker’s candidacy, neither party can afford to lose support on this vote.

  • Needed for a Majority: 376
  • EPP + S&D: 412
  • EPP + S&D -UKLab: 392

16 votes would be quite close. But of course Junker will have to emerge as the European Council Nominee first, a battle in itself, before any such vote will take place in the European Parliament.

Come Out and Vote!

to_vote_logo_largeTomorrow the Local and European Elections take place in Ireland. Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

These elections will be the last Elections held before the planned referendum on Marriage next year. It is therefore very important that candidates who support the LGBT Community in Ireland are supported at the polls tomorrow.

To help find out who is supporting the community. ILGA Europe have asked candidates to sign the Come Out 2014 Pledge. Signatures were gathered from across Europe with 1,156 candidates taking the pledge. Also check out the Youtube Video

In Ireland 19 out of the 41 candidates have signed it. All 6 Fine Gael candidates have signed the pledge as have the 3 Labour and Green Party Candidates.

Surprisingly Lynn Boylan is the only Sinn Fein signatory on pledge and Mary Fitzpatrick is the only Fianna Fail signatory. These are both Dublin Candidates and it is also important to not that Dublin has the highest number of candidates who have signed it with 8, followed by South with 6 and in Midlands North West only 5 candidates have signed it.

Dublin

  • Lynn Boylan (SF)
  • Nessa Childers (Ind)
  • Emer Costello (Lab)
  • Mary Fitzpatrick (FF)
  • Brian Hayes (FG)
  • Paul Murphy (Socialist)
  • Eamonn Ryan (Green)
  • Brid Smith (PBPA)

Midlands North West

  • Mark Deary (Greens)
  • Marian Harkin (Ind)
  • Lorraine Higgins (Lab)
  • Jim Higgins (FG)
  • Mairead McGuinness (FG)

South

  • Deirdre Clune (FG)
  • Simon Harris (FG)
  • Sean Kelly (FG)
  • Diarmuid O’Flynn (Ind)
  • Phil Prendergast (Lab)
  • Grace O’Sulliavan (Green)

In the local Elections no such pledge exists, but a number of candidates up and down the country have shown their worth on LGBT issues. Whether by marching in Gay Pride Parades, being the Grand Marshall on some occasions. Supporting the LGBT groups within their parties and their communities. Sometimes it just supporting the events and individuals. Either way do take this into account when you vote tomorrow.

Ensure you vote goes to someone who will support you, who ever you are!

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European Elections 2014: Ireland South

European-Elections-2014I recently posted about those seeking election to Cork City Council, I am now turning to the European Elections and looking at who is running the European Elections. First up is Ireland South with its 4 seats. 15 candidates are standing and are canvassing across the counties of Carlow, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow for your vote over the last 9 days before the polls open on May 23rd.

The Candidates

Candidates listed by order of appearance on Ballot Paper with links to Social Media Profiles. * denotes current MEP

Richard Cahill, Non- Party

Richard is the only candidate from County Clare running in this election. He has decided not to have any posters. He is from Sixmilebridge and is a volunteer community worker. You can see his Youtube video here.

Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael

Deirdre is one of 3 Fine Gael candidates in Ireland South. She is from Cork and formerly represented Cork South Central in the Dáil. She is a former Lord Mayor of Cork and is currently a Senator where she is Spokesperson on Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation. She can be found on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook

Brian Crowley*, Fianna Fail

Brian Crowley is another Cork candidate hailing from Bandon. He has represented this are in the European Parliament since 1994 making him one of Ireland’s longest serving current MEP’s. He has topped the polls in the past and will more then likely do so again. He can be found on Facebook

Jillian Godsil, Non-Party

Jillian Godsil was in the papers long before she was a candidate. She forced the Government to change the law to allow bankrupts to run in the European Elections. She is a writer by profession and comes from Arklow in Co. Wicklow. Her tagline is “writing my way out of trouble”. She is also running for Wicklow County Council. She can be found on Twitter

Simon Harris, Fine Gael

Simon is currently the youngest TD in Dáil Eireann. He is from Greystones in County Wicklow. He is secretary of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party and a member of the Public Accounts Committee. He was previously a member of Wicklow County Council and Greystones Town Council. He can be found on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter

Kieran Hartley, Fianna Fail

Kieran Hartley is the second Fianna Fail Candidiate in Ireland South. Coming from Kilmacthomas in County Waterford. This is first time running for Elections and is self-employed. He can be found on Facebook.

Theresa Heaney, Catholic Democrats (The National Party)

Theresa Heaney is a Housewife from Timoleague County Cork. She has previously ran for the Dáil in Cork South West in 1997 for the National Party getting 5.12% of the vote and in 2002 as in independent polling 1.98%. She is the Chairman of the Mothers Alliance Ireland.

Sean Kelly*, Fine Gael

The 3rd Fine Gael candidate and current MEP. First elected to the European Parliament in 2009. A former GAA President from Killarney, County Kerry, he has been nominated and won MEP of the year from his peers in the European Parliament. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Liadh Ní Riada, Sinn Fein

Liahh Ní Riada, daughter of the late Musician Sean Ó’Riada, hails from Baile Mhic Ire in County Cork. She is the Irish Language Officer of Sinn Fein. She previously worked with RTÉ and TG4 as a Director and Producer. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Diarmuid O’Flynn, Non-Party

Diarmuid O’Flynn is a sports journalist from Ballyhea in County Cork. He currently writes for the Irish Examiner. He is known for starting the “Ballyhea says no” protests. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Peter O’Loughlin, Non- Party

While Peter O’Loughlin is registered as Non-Party is the sole candidate of the National Independent Party who advocate Irish withdrawal from the European Union and were formed early in 2014.

Dónal Ó’Ríordáin, Fís Nua

Dónal Ó’Ríordáin is an engineer from Bandon and this is his first election. This is also Fís Nua’s first European elections. He can be found on Facebook.

Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party

Grace O’Sullivan is from Waterford and is an ecologist. She has been an activist for many years with Greenpeace. She is a former Irish Surf Champion. This is also her first time contesting an election. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Phil Prendergast*, Labour

Phil took over this seat following Alan Kelly’s election to Dáil Eireann. She comes from Clonmel in County Tipperary making her the only Tipperary candidate in this election. She is a midwife by training and previously served on Clonmel Borough Council and South Tipperary County Council as an independent. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Jan Van De Ven, Direct Democracy Ireland

Jan Van De Ven is an entrepreneur from Avoca County Wicklow. He is the Chairman and Leader of Direct Democracy Ireland. He plans to use eDemocracy to bring decision making back to the people. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter 

Prediction

FF’s Brian Crowley is sure to top the poll and will more the likely be elected on the first count. Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly and Sinn Fein’s will get the 2nd and 3rd seats not sure in what order. Leaving Labour’s Phil Prendergast and Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune the front runners for the last seat. If I were a betting man, I would but my money on Clune. I cannot see any of the independent or other party candidates getting anywhere close to quota.

The Replacements

As there are no Bye-Elections to the European Parliament following the resignation or death of an MEP there replacement is chosen from the list submitted by parties and candidates at the time of the election. Here are the replacement lists for Ireland South.

REPLACEMENT LIST R.C. (Presented by Richard Cahill)

  1. CAHILL, MARELEN, Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare.

REPLACEMENT LIST F.G. (Presented by Fine Gael)

  1. KELLY, SEÁN, Gortroe, Killarney, Co. Kerry.
  2. CLUNE, DEIRDRE, 144, Blackrock Road, Cork.
  3. HARRIS, SIMON, 79, Redford Park, Greystones, Co. Wicklow.
  4. D’ARCY, MICHAEL, Annagh, Inch, Gorey, Co. Wexford.
  5. BURKE, COLM, 36, Farranlea Grove, Cork.
  6. O’HALLORAN, EMMET, 42 Mercier Park, Cork.

REPLACEMENT LIST F.F. (Presented by Fianna Fáil)

  1. CROWLEY, BRIAN, Maryborough Lodge, Douglas, Cork.
  2. HARTLEY, KIERAN, Ballyboy, Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford.
  3. O’HIGGINS, ADRIAN, Shellumsrath, Callan Road, Kilkenny.
  4. O’SULLIVAN, NED, Cahirdown, Listowel, Co. Kerry.
  5. DALY, MARK, 34, Henry Street, Kenmare, Co. Kerry.
  6. AMBROSE, SIOBHAN, Dún Mhuire, Melview, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.

REPLACEMENT LIST C.D. (Presented by Catholic Democrats(The National Party).

  1. BENNIS, NORA, 16, Revington Pk, Limerick.
  2. CAREY, MARGARET, Horse & Jockey, Thurles.
  3. MAHON, ELIZABETH, Rathmines, Dublin 6.

REPLACEMENT LIST S.F. (Presented by Sinn Féin)

  1. GOULD, THOMAS, 121, Cathedral Road, Cork.
  2. O’LEARY CHRIS, 17, Loughmahon Road, Mahon, Cork.
  3. FUNCHION, KATHLEEN , 28, Whites Castle, Knocktopher, Kilkenny.

REPLACEMENT LIST D.O.F. (Presented by Diarmuid Patrick O’Flynn)

  1. FITZPATRICK, FIONA, Pike Farm, Charleville.
  2. MOLONEY, PATRICK, Broghill, Charleville.
  3. RYAN, PHILLIP, Shinanagh, Ballyhea.

REPLACEMENT LIST F.N. (Presented by Fís Nua)

  1. NUTTY, BEN, 34, Sweetbriar Terrace, Lower Newtown, Waterford.

REPLACEMENT LIST G.P. (Presented by Green Party/ Comhaontas Glas)

  1. NOONAN, MALCOLM, 35, Fr. Murphy Square, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny.
  2. MANNING, CORMAC, 36, The Meadows, Classes Lake, Ballincollig, Co. Cork.
  3. RYDER, MARY, 17, O’Connell Avenue, Turners Cross, Cork.

REPLACEMENT LIST L.P. (Presented by The Labour Party)

  1. WALSH, DECLAN, Oldenburg, Lower Road, Cobh, Co. Cork.
  2. KANE, ADRIAN, 42 Idaville, Old Blackrock Road, Cork.
  3. SHORTT, CLLR. TOM, Walnut House, Browns Quay, Thomondgate, Limerick.
  4. Ó HÁRGAIN, CLLR. SEÁN, Sceilig, Green Hill, Kilkenny.

REPLACEMENT LIST D.D.I. (Presented by Direct Democracy Ireland).

  1. BURKE, LOUISE, Ballygahan Lower, Avoca, Co. Wicklow.
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Cork City Council – The Candidates

Its 12 days to polling for the Local and European Elections on May 23rd.2014-04-24 20.41.34

Following the elections in 2009 Fine Gael became the largest party on the Council with 8 seats. They were followed by Labour on 7 and Fianna Fail on 6. Sinn Fein had 4 seats with the Socialist Party and the Workers Party having one each. 4 Independent councillors were elected.

Since that election there has been some changes. Fine Gael now have 9 seats has Joe’O’Callaghan was co-opted to Dave McCathy’s (Ind) seat in Cork North West following his death in April 2011. Chris O’Leary who was elected as an independent in the Cork South East Ward has since joined Sinn Fein bringing them to 5 seats. This has left only two independents on the Council, Mick Finn in Cork South Central and Kieran McCarthy in Cork South East.

Three councillors are retiring this year Jim Corr a Fine Gael Councillor in Cork South East, Brian Birmingham a Fine Gael Councillor in Cork South West and Michael Ahern a Labour Councillor also in Cork South West. All three have had long service on the council.

A total of 65 candidates are running for the 31 seats on Cork City Council. Fine Gael are running 14 candidates across the 6 city wards while Fianna Fail are running 11 candidates. Sinn Fein are running 7 candidates to Labour ‘s 6. The Green party have 3 candidates, Anti Austerity Alliance also have 3. The Workers Party have two candidates while the Communist Party is running only one Candidates. By far the largest number of candidates are Non-Party candidates who number 15 candidates across the city.

Below is a list of all candidates seeking election to Cork City Council in 2014.

* denotes sitting councillor

Cork North Central Ward (5 seats)

  • Mick Barry*, Anti Austerity Alliance
  • Catherine Clancy*, Labour
  • Billy Corcoran, Non-Party
  • Thomas Gould*, Sinn Fein
  • Patricia Gosh*, Fine Gael
  • Donnacha Loftus, Fine Gael
  • Lil O’Donnell, Anti Austerity Alliance
  • Kenneth O’Flynn, Fianna Fail
  • Dr John Sheehan, Fianna Fail

Cork North East Ward (4 seats)

  • Tim Brosnan*, Fianna Fail
  • Sue-Ellen Carroll, Fine Gael
  • Stephen Cunningham, Sinn Fein
  • Joe Kavanagh*, Fine Gael
  • John Kelleher*, Labour
  • Philip A McCarthy, Non-Party
  • Oliver Moran, Green Party
  • Michael O’Donnell, Communist Party of Ireland
  • Ted Tynan*, Workers Party

Cork North West Ward (4 seats)

  • Lyndsey Clarke, Fine Gael
  • Kenneth Collins, Sinn Fein
  • James Coughlan, Workers Party
  • Tony Fitzgerald*, Fianna Fail
  • Evan Murphy, Non-Party
  • John Murphy, Non-Party
  • Mick Nugent*, Sinn Fein
  • Joe O’Callaghan*, Fine Gael
  • Michael O’Connell*, Labour
  • Barry O’Donovan, Non-Party
  • Pat O’Shea, Non-Party
  • Marian O’Sullivan, Anti Austerity Alliance
  • Maurice Sheehan, Non-Party

Cork South Central Ward (5 seats)

  • Paudie Dineen, Non-Party
  • Mick Finn*, Non-Party
  • Ella Goddin, Non-Party
  • Brian Houlihan, Non-Party
  • Fiona Kerins*, Sinn Fein
  • Lorraine Kingston*, Labour
  • Billy MacGill, Fine Gael
  • Sean Martin*, Fianna Fail
  • Tom McIntyre, Non-Party
  • Tom O’Driscoll, Fianna Fail
  • Emmet O’Halloran*, Fine Gael
  • Johnny O’Mahony, Green Party

Cork South East Ward (7 seats)

  • Dan Boyle, Green Party
  • Des Cahill*, Fine Gael
  • Derek Cregan, Fine Gael
  • Kate Martin, Fianna Fail
  • Kieran McCathy*, Non-Party
  • Laura McGonigle*, Fine Gael
  • Diarmuid Ó’Cadhla, Non-Party
  • Denis O’Fynn*, Labour
  • Nicholas O’Keeffe, Fianna Fail
  • Chris O’Leary*, Sinn Fein
  • Shane O’Shea, Sinn Fein
  • Terry Shannon*, Fianna Fail

Cork South West Ward (6 seats)

  • John Buttimer*, Fine Gael
  • Henry Cremin*, Sinn Fein
  • Fergal Dennehy, Fianna Fail
  • Ger Gibbons*, Labour
  • P.J. Hourican, Fine Gael
  • Barry Keane, Fine Gael
  • Thomas Kiely, Non-Party
  • Thomas Moloney, Non-Party
  • Mick Murphy, Green Party
  • Mary Shields*, Fianna Fail

 

 

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European Parliament Elections 2014 – Ireland

This year will see the 28 member states of the European Union going to the polls between the 22nd and the 25th of May to elect a new European Parliament. In Ireland this years elections will see a big change on the 2009 elections due to boundary changes and the change in the Political landscape since that election.

Constituency Changes

A number of changes to the European Parliament constituencies was needed following Ireland’s reduction of seats to 11 following the accession of Croatia last July. The Constituency of Ireland East was abolished. Dublin stayed a 3 seat constituency. Ireland South gained Clare from North-West and gained Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow from the abolished Ireland East and is also now a 4 seat constituency. A new 4 seat constituency of Ireland Midlands-North-West was created including all of Ireland-North West and the remaining counties from Ireland East namely Kildare, Louth, Meath and Offally.

Political Changes

With Fine Gael and Labour now in power it will be a different dynamic then the past elections during Fianna Fail led Governments. With Labour expecting to lose a number of seats in the Local elections, its two remaining MEP’s look vulnerable, as neither of them have been elected. Fine Gael would do well to hold their 4 seats, though they may have their eyes set an that extra seat in Ireland South.

Fianna Fail who claim to be resurgent will also hope to gain back a seat in Dublin but could face difficulty with Brian Crowley in Ireland South who has the worst attendance record among Irish MEP’s. But with the larger constituency they have a chance to bring in new blood and could score a surprise.

The Socialist Party will be hoping to hold on it’s seat in Dublin, but its bizarre use of Paul Murphy posters throughout the country during the Fiscal Treaty referendum rather then on focusing them on Dublin was a strange tactic. They will be lucky to hold this seat as both Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail are likely to take the seat.

Sinn Fein who currently are unrepresented in the European Parliament will hope to change this following its performance in the last General Election. They must certainly have an eye on a seat in each of the constituencies but being realistic they should be happy with 2 (Dublin and South).

The Greens in this election will be fielding token candidates. I cannot see them getting elected anywhere. They may do well in there traditional areas (Dublin and Wicklow) but with both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein taking the Labour votes, I don’t see enough left over for the Greens.

Ireland currently has 2 independent MEP’s, Marian Harkin and Nessa Childers. Marian Harkin is a well respected MEP in Ireland and further afield and normally has a decent vote in North-West. The addition of the Eastern Counties could benefit her and certainly keep her in contention as the addition of an extra seat should also up her chances.

Nessa Childers is a different story. She was elected as a Labour MEP in Ireland East and has confirmed that she will not be running as an S&D candidate in Ireland South

While the expansion of the constituency and the extra seat may help, I dont see it having the same effect as with Marian Harkin.

I do intend to follow the elections here, especially the European elections. Expect more constituency level posts as the Parties confirm their candidates.

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Why I’m Voting No on October 4th

On October 4th I will be voting No to the 32nd Amendment to the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Eireann) Bill 2013. I am doing this for a number of reasons. I spoke against the abolition of the Seanad Eireann at this years Young Fine Gael’s Garrett Fitzgerald Summer School and this blog post is broadly based on that speech.

Note: following a tied vote on a motion to back the Fine Gael stance in the Referendum at the Garrett Fitzgerald Summer School, The National Executive of Young Fine Gael took the decision to remain neutral in the referendum and allow members to campaign on either side if they wish.

Abolishing the Seanad is not a measure that reforms Irish Politics in a way that is better for the people. It further concentrates power in the Dáil and focus’ more power and influence on TD’s and the whip system, the plague of Leinster House.

This simplistic populist policy was created to grab a headline  and draw attention to a Presidential Dinner and to bolster Enda’s poll rating. There was no debate, there was no consultation, it was within the leaders prerogative we were told.

This will be the biggest change to Bunreacht na hEireann since its enactment. A change it was not made to withstand. It recklessly severs the constitution with a scatter gun effect.

This amendment does more then abolish the Seanad. It will also change the following:

  • This possibility of the reference of Bills to the people by the President will be removed from the Constitution
  • A nomination for President may be made by 14 members of the Dáil.
  • Impeachment of the President would be dealt with by the Dáil. A proposal to impeach would need the signatures of at least 30 members of the Dáil and its adoption would need the agreement of at least four-fifths of the total membership of the Dáil. The Dáil would then investigate the charges against the President and could remove him/her from office if four-fifths of its total membership agree.
  • Judges could be removed from office for stated misbehaviour or incapacity if at least two-thirds of the total membership of the Dáil so decide
  • The arrangements for removing the Comptroller & Auditor General from office would be changed in the same way as for judges.

(Taken from www.referendum2013.ie)

The Seanad has many possibilities and some of our greatest politicians have realised this and used it. Garrett Fitzgerald used his Taoiseach’s appointments to appoint the lead Jim Dooge as his Minister for Foreign Affairs. Enda Kenny used the majority of his appointments to appoint various people from Civil Society to give a wider range of voices in the Seanad. Though he recently missed the chance to replace Senator McAleese with an independent person to chair a Banking Inquiry, using it instead to appoint a party member.

Seanad reform has been constantly ignored by successive Governments.  12 reports and a constitutional amendment all not acted upon by the Governments and the Dáil.

At the end of the it is only the Dáil that can bring the true reform that is needed to ensure that we have a proper functioning bi-caramel system. We are not ready as a state to be a uni-caramel system. The political system has not been reformed enough and our constitution is not made for it.

Abolishing the Seanad will also not save us money. More sitting days and more committees, which have been promised, will end up costing the same, if not more!

The Government have also decided to hold Dáil reform hostage to this amendment by promising that the reforms promised in the Programme for Government will only happen if this amendment is passed. This is a wrong and cynical move by the Government. Those of us who want a reformed system want Seanad AND Dáil reform so that it works better for the people of Ireland.

If we abolish Seanad Eireann we lose an expert voice and an independent voice in our political system. The Seanad can have real power and influence over legislation, tidying up things that come from Dáil Eireann. It may not be front page news, but it is an important function and one we will regret when it is gone. Appearances in front of a committee are not the same.

We need effective Check’s and Balances in our system which is dominated by the Executive. Abolishing the Seanad is not reform, but will further entrench the power of the Executive to the detriment of our democracy. Vote No on October 4th!

 

I encourage you to read the full details of the Governments proposals on The Referendum Commission website. If you wish to get involved in the No Campaign check out Democracy Matters and Future Matters

Note: I am fully in favour of the 33rd Amendment to the Constitution (Court of Appeal) Bill 2013.

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    Diary of a Canvasser – By-Election Edition

    On Saturday I went on my first By-Election canvass since getting involved with Young Fine Gael. I was in Ratoath in Meath East canvassing for the Fine Gael Candidate Helen McEntee who is running for election to replace her father who tragically died before Christmas.

    This canvass was different to any other canvass I had done. While I had travelled distances before to canvass, never have I had to travel long distances between houses!!! Yes it was a rural canvass!

    Thankfully I was in good company as my friend Sinead, another city slicker like myself, was with me and I would like to think we managed it ably! There was also four members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party in the area, Minister Ciaran Cannon, Deputy Regina Doherty (who’s office was doing an amazing job organising us), Deputy Jerry Buttimer and Senator Colm Burke.

    The fresh air, the animals, the smells, and getting in and out of the car so often took a bit of getting used to. Also the numerous holes, bumps and various other things I fell over meant I had an interesting day and slept on the way home! But I think I will definitely be better prepared for my next rural canvass if I have to do one in Cork South Central at the next election.

    Now I was expecting to be lambasted out of it on the doors considering everything in the media about the current Government. While there was a lot of unhappiness about the current state of the country, many people understood that recovery takes time, and were waiting it out.

    The canvass also reminded me of the inherit politeness of Irish people. While they may not agree with us, they would listen to us and engage and be surprised that we had travelled all the way from Cork to canvass for Helen.

    One thing that struck me while up there was the professionalism of the campaign. When we arrived we were handed maps and told exactly where to go. There is a very efficient plan in place which will hopefully pay off on March 27th.

    We of course weren’t the only canvass team in the area, Fianna Fail were out with Willie O’Dea canvassing for Sen. Thomas Byrne, Labour were out for Cllr Eoin Holmes, Sinn Fein were out for Darren O’Rourke and Direct Democracy Ireland were out for Ben Gilroy.

    It was interesting at lunch time as Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein were all in the same place! Which led to some hilarious conversations as you can well imagine!

    It is impossible to tell which way this vote will go, and you never really trust people when they tell you they are voting for your candidate, well you don’t when you have been canvassing as long as I have, but if they were telling the truth Helen has a very good chance of retaining her father’s seat.

    Unfortunately I won’t get up to Meath again before the vote, so I am hoping that the people of Meath East will back Helen McEntee who is a young, capable and fantastic candidate and will ably represent the people of Meath East in Dáil Eireann.