Former ministers support Yes vote in Seanad referendum

Hussey says she found Seanad had virtually no role in influencing national events

Alan Dukes was one of six former ministers who called for a Yes vote in the Seanad referendum. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/Irish Times

Alan Dukes was one of six former ministers who called for a Yes vote in the Seanad referendum. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/Irish Times

Sun, Sep 29, 2013, 16:34

Six former government ministers have today called on voters to support the abolition of the Seanad.

They are Alan Dukes and Gemma Hussey (FG), Des O’Malley (FF and PD) and Barry Desmond, Mervyn Taylor and Liz McManus (Labour). In a joint statement, they said that the Irish people “can be reassured that a Yes vote is a safe vote for progress, reform and democracy, and stands by the principle of equality of citizens that underpins our republic’’.

At a Dublin press conference today, Mr Desmond said that the Seanad was an elitist and undemocratic structure, which was written into the Constitution.

“The notion of reforming the Seanad is not realistic, because any reform would simply turn it into a second Dail which Ireland neither needs nor wants,’’ he added.

Ms Hussey recalled that she was elected as an Independent Senator from the National University of Ireland (NUI) in 1977, with no intention of going any further in politics.

“But I learned quite quickly that Seanad Eireann had virtually no role in influencing national events,’’ she added.

“If I wanted to get real change in the areas dear to me - legislation for women’s rights, social justice, pluralism, reconciliation in Northern Ireland - it was not going to happen in the Senate, ’’ she added.

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