A win for No side would result in a ‘resounding mandate for reform of Seanad’

Democracy Matters holds final rally before referendum on the abolition of Seanad

Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, senator Feargal Quinn and senator Katherine Zappone at the Davenport Hotel, Dublin yesterday.

Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, senator Feargal Quinn and senator Katherine Zappone at the Davenport Hotel, Dublin yesterday.

Wed, Oct 2, 2013, 19:21

A win for the No side in Friday’s referendum would provide “a resounding mandate for reform of Seanad Éireann”, senator Katherine Zappone has told a meeting of anti-abolition group, Democracy Matters.

In its final rally before Friday's referendum, Noel Whelan of the Democracy Matters campaign, which is advocating a No vote, said there is no reason why a reformed Seanad should cost any more money than it currently does, other than the costs associated with direct elections.

He estimated that allowing Seanad elections to be extended to all voters would cost an extra €1 million to €1.5 million for the election itself.


Constitutional constraints
However, outside that, he said “there was no reason to believe that a more assertive Seanad within the constitutional constraints and balances imposed on it would cost any more money.

“What we’re saying is, if you change the mandate, and therefore change the make-up . . . then that Seanad can be more assertive within the constitutional balances that are there,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Ms Zappone said without the Seanad there would be more power in the hands of few politicians allowing “a bare Dáil majority to make any laws without debate”.

Professor Diarmaid Ferriter accused the Yes campaign of having a “cavalier and arrogant” attitude to democracy and said Enda Kenny’s “refusal to debate this issue . . . demonstrated a contemptuous attitude which ill beholds the office of an Taoiseach”.


‘Fewer politicians’
He said the Yes campaign was built on a “promise of monetary savings which we now know was bogus” and a “crude and populist slogan: ‘Fewer politicians’.”

Prof Ferriter warned that, if the proposed abolition of the Seanad was successful, it would result in the “further centralisation of politics and the erosion of oversight”.

President of the Union of Students in Ireland, Joe O’Connor said “the message to the Government with this referendum on Friday needs to be very clear. It needs to be a No vote – reform both houses and then we’ll talk.”