Enda Kenny to consult party leaders on Seanad reform
Micheál Martin says Taoiseach not engaging in a meaningful and fair-minded basis
John Perry TD, Ray MacSharry, Senator Marc Mac Sharry and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at IT Sligo yesterday. Photograph: James Connolly.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that he will consult party leaders on Seanad reform.
He said he would call in the party leaders and the Seanad “and engage in a meaningful discussion about what is best to do given the extent of the proposals there are and the clarity of the result of the people and move on’’.
Mr Kenny said those discussions were only part of the process of political change which was part of wider politics and holding the Government to account under the Constitution.
“I will take everyone’s view into account,’’ Mr Kenny added. “A clear decision has been made and I accept it.’’
Mr Kenny said he did not think there was anything wrong with somebody in politics consulting the people when they said they would and accepting their answer.
“I am up for engaging with the leaders in the Dáil and the Seanad and we will see what is the best way of putting in place a process that will lead to a more effective Seanad Éireann,’’ he added.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the Taoiseach had tried “to ram something through without any meaningful consultation and put forward ill-informed proposals with no proper constitutional reform’’.
Mr Martin said the people were saying loud and clear that they did not want any more tinkering with the system.
“What they want is meaningful reform that enhances the independence of parliament vis-a-vis the Government,’’ he added.
Mr Martin said the Taoiseach was not engaging in a meaningful and fair-minded basis and did not really listen to other proposals with a view to taking them on board.
“That is why he was walloped,’’ he added. “I take his correction on the kind of wallop it was, but it was a wallop as much about how he does things as the proposal itself.’’
Mr Kenny said he did not know what meaningful discussions Mr Martin had in mind when he put forward the abolition of the Seanad in his programme for government. “He then changed his mind when he saw the wind blowing the way it might suit him,’’ he added.
Mr Kenny said all he heard from Mr Martin’s spokesperson was that savings could be made in the Oireachtas commission. He added that a Bill moved by Independent Senator Katherine Zappone was passed unanimously at second stage. “It will commit Senators to halving their salaries, which is an interesting concept,’’ he added.
Mr Kenny said that he would not take Mr Martin’s “triumphalist barrage’’, adding that the Government had committed itself to putting the question about the future of the Seanad and had received an answer.
The Taoiseach said he would have discussions with the various TDs and Senators who had put forward Bills for Seanad reform. “As I announced on Saturday and yesterday, I will initiate thorough discussions with everybody as soon as I can, although I have a busy schedule,’’ he added.
He said he hoped that Mr Martin and his spokespeople would come up with meaningful proposals and not daft ones.