Eamon Ryan criticises Taoiseach for failing to debate Seanad

Green Party leader says proposal is a cynical attempt to exploit public anger at politicians

Eamon Ryan  said he suspected the Taoiseach was fearful of engaging in a debate over the abolition of the Seanad becayse he is afraid he might lose. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Eamon Ryan said he suspected the Taoiseach was fearful of engaging in a debate over the abolition of the Seanad becayse he is afraid he might lose. Photograph: Eamon Ward


Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has strongly criticised the Taoiseach for refusing to engage in a public debate on the proposed abolitionof the Seanad, saying he believed Enda Kenny feared engaging on the topic as he knew he would lose the argument.

“I think it’s probably fear - we all know that if you go back to that debate in 2007 that turned that election, Enda Kenny didn’t do well and that probably turned that election and he’s probably fearful of that,” said Mr Ryan.

“Enda Kenny has single handedly brought this referendum to the Irish people - it was an initiative on his own behalf, so for him not to be prepared to go and defend that and speak to the argument is shocking ,” he added.

Mr Ryan said he suspected Mr Kenny was fearful of engaging in debate not just because he might lose, but also because he was fearful people would see that those advocating abolition of the Seanad have no real argument to bolster their case.

“The only argument they have is ‘Save €20million’ and ‘Fewer politicians is better’ - that’s now been undermined by the referendum commission saying it’s not true, and that the net savings would be negligible, so what he’s going to say during a one hour debate ?”

Mr Ryan said he found Mr Kenny’s position in advocating abolition to be “populism at its worst”, and he described it as a cynical attempt to exploit people’s anger with politicians over the economic crash in order to achieve what he believed is an anti-democratic move.

“What really sickens me is that what they are doing in a very cynical move, they are taking the people’s anger at politicians over the crash and they are turning it and saying ‘Oh, we’ll solve that by a measure that undermines the public interest and undermines the check on power and politics’.

“It’s using the public anger against politics in a way to win support for a measure that to my mind isn’t in the public interest, and I think the Irish public are going to wake up to that and vote No on October 4th,” he added.

Criticising the government for centralising power in the economic sub-committee of the Cabinet, Mr Ryan said the proposal to abolish the Seanad was a move in a similar direction to remove a check on Government, where the Government could be challenged and forced to defend its policies.

“In tough times, you stand up for politics... politics is a questioning of Government and how it works, and that ultimately leads to better Government. I think the more questioning we have the better.

“All the analysis by outside experts of the crisis in this country says it was the lack of voices during the Celtic Tiger questioning what was happening was the fundamental underlying problem, so getting rid of politicians, getting rid of questioning is the absolute opposite of what we need to do.”

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