Bruton says stable opinion polls point to Yes vote holding up

Polls have not shown slippage from Yes vote as we have seen in past, says Minister

Seanad chamber. Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Richard Bruton 
has
said that when government referendum campaigns were defeated in the past, there had been a discernible shift in polls from Yes to No in the months and weeks leading up the poll, with more dramatic shifts in the final weeks.

Seanad chamber. Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Richard Bruton has said that when government referendum campaigns were defeated in the past, there had been a discernible shift in polls from Yes to No in the months and weeks leading up the poll, with more dramatic shifts in the final weeks.

Fri, Sep 20, 2013, 01:35

The director of Fine Gael’s referendum campaign to abolish the Seanad has said the trend of opinion polls has been markedly different this time round from past referendums when government propositions have been defeated.

Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Richard Bruton said that when government referendum campaigns were defeated in the past, there had been a discernible shift in polls from Yes to No in the months and weeks leading up the poll, with more dramatic shifts in the final weeks.

With less than two weeks to go to polling day on October 4th, Mr Bruton has said that trend has not been evident with the referendum to abolish the Seanad.

“If you look at the results of most of the polls to date, they have not shown the slippage from a Yes vote that we have seen in the past,” Mr Bruton told The Irish Times.

“It shows there is a strong case we have been making to people about [the desirability of abolition] and that is being borne out in the polls.”

Mr Bruton also said Fine Gael has increased the intensity of its campaign and has already distributed 600,000 pieces of literature throughout the State and has conducted hundreds of canvasses and almost a dozen large public meetings.

The party has also said that it has trebled its reach in social media in recent days, and points to that as an indicator that its campaign is having an effect.

It came as four Independent TDs and an Independent MEP yesterday announced they would be calling for a No vote in the referendum.

At a media event on the plinth of Leinster House, Deputies Finian McGrath, Shane Ross, Stephen Donnelly and Mattie McGrath as well as North West MEP Marian Harkin all contended it would be a mistake to abolish the Seanad and that a radically reformed Seanad was a preferable option.

Mr McGrath challenged Mr Bruton on the figure of €20 million that Fine Gael has said will be the annual savings once the Seanad is abolished. The Dublin Bay North TD said the real figure was closer to €7 million.

Mr Donnelly said the referendum represented a “ huge opportunity to take a badly broken pillar of our democracy and make it phenomenal”.

He said the Seanad could be the perfect institution for scrutinising EU legislation.

A similar argument was made by Ms Harkin, who said it could become an expert body in analysing very important legislation from Europe.

Televised debate
All criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny for refusing to become involved in a televised debate.

Mr Ross said: “It’s appalling on an issue of such constitutional importance for the Taoiseach not to come out and be prepared to debate with any other politician.

“It shows that he has not a very strong argument. It was a mad idea he had at a Fine Gael dinner.”

Mattie McGrath said Mr Kenny had “no answers to give and that’s why he wont’ debate”.

Meanwhile, Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy argued that the reforms put forward by Senators Feargal Quinn and Katherine Zappone would perpetuate the elitism of the Upper House.

“[Their reforms include] graduate seats and the undemocratic practice of 11 appointments by the Taoiseach,” said Mr Murphy, whose party is campaigning for a Yes vote.