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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    #SE11: Agricultural Panel

    A lunchtime protest by dislocated workers was ...
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    The count for the Agricultural Panel started last night and has continued today in Leinster House. 28 candidates battled it out for 11 seats on this Seanad panel. The quota for this panel was 88,834. At least four candidates must be elected from each sub-panel.

    The following have been elected.

    1. Heffernan, James (Lab) 1st Count (inside panel)
    2. Burke, Paddy (FG) 8th Count (outside panel)
    3. Bradford, Paul (FG) 14th Count (outside panel)
    4. Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor (SF) 17th Count (inside panel)
    5. O’ Domhnail, Brian (FF) 19th Count (outside panel)
    6. Comiskey, Michael (FG) 21st Count (inside panel)
    7. O Neill, Pat (FG) 21st Count (outside panel)
    8. Walsh, Jim (FF) 24th Count (outside panel)
    9. Denis O’Donovan (FF) 25th Count (outside panel)
    10. Paschal Mooney (FF) 25th Count (outside panel)
    11. Susan O’Keeffe (Lab) 25th Count (inside panel)

    The Micheal Martin list seems to have not worked fully on this panel with James Carroll losing out. Brian O’Domhnail was on the list so it does work a bit. But at the same time 1 out 4 isnt a great finish. The Fianna Fail vote is extremely tight and the small number of candidates is making it easy for them to keep up numbers wise with FG.

    Fine Gael seems to have ran too many candidates on panels but the transfers are remaining tight within FG candidates. But in the end the fact that most FG candidates are starting with low 1st preferences it gives FF an easy ride to steal seats. FG had 5 quotas on this panel, but only won 4 seats. I know they have gained a seat, but this is not how they should be doing it.

    Labour have run the exact number of candidates on this panel. They have managed their votes and candidates well with both of their candidates elected. I am especially happy that Susan O’Keeffe has been elected. She will be excellent in the Seanad. Susan was elected as she was the last remaining candidate on the inside panel. Labour so far have have had 3/3 candidates elected, but on the upcoming panels Labour have lots of candidates and may suffer from the same problem as FG.

    Standing of the Parties after two panels:

    • FG 6
    • FF 6
    • Lab 3
    • SF 1

    A weekly message from Enda!

    Enda Kenny
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    So Enda seems to be trying to catch up with the rest of the digital world and has started to send a weekly message to supporters on a Friday. I think this is a good idea, and the message seems to include lots of information. I look forward to getting it weekly.

    Don’t worry, I won’t post it every week. Only if its interesting!

    Dear Member

    Many of you have said to me in the past that you would like to receive a regular update on some of the things that our Party is dealing with and other matters of interest to all our supporters.  For that reason every Friday from now on I am going to send you a short message dealing with some of these issues. I’ll keep it short and to the point as I know you can get bombarded by mail of all sorts.

    There was a subdued air around Leinster House this week as much attention was focussed on events in Belfast. Unfortunately those talks didn’t come to a successful conclusion which created an element of doubt around the stability of the Northern Assembly.  Neither side wants to see Assembly Elections ahead of the UK elections in May so all we can do is continue to support both Governments in their efforts to find a working compromise and hope that all involved can sign up to that deal.

    At Leaders’ Questions this week, I raised with the Government different aspects of the current banking crisis.

    You know and I know that banks are just not lending to people who need lines of credit and I have real fears that NAMA will not do anything to fix that. I believe we’re going to end up having to pour additional billions – maybe as much as another €5-€10 billion – into our banks in recapitalisation monies because the toxic loans being taken on by you and me are worth even less than was expected.

    Also, we know now that we’re not going to get the type of public and transparent bank inquiry that Fine Gael wanted because Fianna Fail are clearly afraid of what it might expose.

    And on top of all that, on Thursday we heard that Permanent TSB is going to hike up interest rates for 75,000 people. When I pushed Brian Lenihan in the Dáil on the issue he refused to say if other banks covered by the bank guarantee and transferring assets to NAMA will not to increase their interest rates outside of interest rate levels driven by the European Central Bank.

    He said “Nothing to do with me.”  So it appears as if the government intend to bail the banks out again and again at the expense of you the taxpayer.

    This week I appointed Deputy Lucinda Creighton to be a member of our Policy Committee.  I also appointed Senator Ciaran Cannon to be Spokesman on the area of Children and Youth Affairs in the Senate.  In addition I appointed him to the Oireachtas on Justice.  I also appointed Senator Eugene Regan to be an additional member of the European Scrutiny Committee.

    This week I also met the Plenary Council of IBEC, the First Step Organisation dealing with assistance for small business and have also met with the new President of the IFA Mr John Bryan to discuss with him his priorities for his presidency.

    Today I met with Dell workers in Limerick together with Deputy Michael Noonan and Deputy Kieran O’Donnell and formally opened the office of Sean Kelly MEP in Limerick, honouring a commitment that I gave during the European election campaign.

    I will keep you updated every Friday and look forward to your feedback.

    Kind regards

    Yours sincerely

    Enda Kenny T.D
    Leader of Fine Gael

    What do you make it?

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