Bruton says Dáil reform at core of Seanad abolition

Case for axing the Upper House is ‘compelling’, Minister says

Dáil reform is at the core of the Government’s proposals to abolish the Seanad,Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton has said. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

Dáil reform is at the core of the Government’s proposals to abolish the Seanad,Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton has said. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

Wed, Sep 25, 2013, 17:12

Dáil reform is at the core of the Government’s proposals to abolish the Seanad,Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton has said.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championship in Co Laois, Mr Bruton said the Seanad had proved to be ineffective.

“We do not believe the tax payers should be required to fund what Michael McDowell himself called a crèche for aspiring politicians and a retirement home for politicians who have been rejected,” he said.

Reforming the Dáil was a major priority for Fine Gael, he said. “That’s at the core of our proposals, making the Dáil, which is elected by every citizen of our country, the heart and core of our democracy,” he said.

He insisted the arguments for both the abolition of the Seanad and the creation of a new Court of Appeal was compelling.

“The case is compelling for moving on from the Senate which is undemocratic in its base, has been ineffective over its lifetime and we sought a mandate for this and we are putting a very straight question to the people,” he said.

“We believe that the facts on the two referenda are compelling, and the more people hear it and the more the more people are engaged, the more people will be persuaded to support these two important referenda which are essentially about creating 21st century institutions for Ireland, ” he said.

When asked about Fine Gael TDs outside the parliamentary party advocating the No vote, Mr Bruton replied: “It’s not surprising to me to find some politicians being uneasy about these changes because the Senate has been an institution elected 90 per cent by politicians themselves.”

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Mícheal Martin noted former Fine Gael minister Lucinda Creighton was calling for a No vote. “I welcome the fact that Lucinda is also calling for a No vote and indeed other Independents,” he said .

Asked if he would join forces with her to campaign for a No vote, he said: “Of course I would, in terms of the end objective of getting a No vote. Yes, I certainly would.”

Mr Martin said the loss of the Seanad would reduce the voice of Irish agriculture. “It was a very significant vehicle for allowing the nomination of senators with a particular interest in agriculture and the articulation of issues to do with agriculture, farming and food,” he said.