Abolishing Seanad will add to economic woe, says Senator

Shutting ‘half our parliament’ shuts down oversight, says Feargal Quinn

 Senator Feargal Quinn and Senator Catherine Zappone at the launch of Democracy Matters, which is campaigning against the abolition of the Seanad,  at Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Senator Feargal Quinn and Senator Catherine Zappone at the launch of Democracy Matters, which is campaigning against the abolition of the Seanad, at Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Sat, Sep 7, 2013, 14:50

Abolishing the Seanad would merely compound Ireland’s economic difficulties, not cure them, according to Senator Feargal Quinn.

Instead of focusing on job creation policies, the Government was “cynically trying to persuade people that Seanad abolition will somehow cure all our economic ills”, he said in a statement.

Mr Quinn told members of the Association of Electrical Contractors of Ireland the systems that existed to protect them had failed.

Speaking in Dublin at the opening of Electrical Trade Show 2013, organised by the association, he said members were experiencing great hardship through no fault of their own. “Why did this happen? Its very simple - the systems, the organisations that exist to serve and to protect you failed - the political parties, the Oireachtas, the Civil Service, Social Partnership.

“In every family, in every home and business the cost of this failure is being felt. So how do we respond?”

In the statement sent by Democracy Matters, the group campaigning against the referendum proposal to be voted on on October 4th, the Senator said more oversight was required to combat the problems, along with new political voices of people who had been shut out of the system.

“That is what a reformed Seanad can do. The bottom line is this: Shutting half our parliament is not the correct response to economic collapse. Shutting half our parliament only shuts down oversight and shuts out new voices. That’s no way to run a country.”

Mr Quinn noted the forthcoming referendum on abolishing the Seanad will take place against the backdrop of mass unemployment, widespread emigration and countless thousands of people in negative equity.

“In this harsh climate, it does not make sense to make Government even more powerful and less accountable,” he added.

He urged a rejection of the Government’s plan to get rid of “the people’s right to a second democratic chamber”.

A reformed Seanad is a positive response to the fiscal crisis and loss of sovereignty. It will help to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated,” he said.