No argument for parliament with two chambers, says Gilmore

Labour holds final press conference ahead of Friday vote

Eamon Gilmore addressing the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York last month. Photograph: Ray Stubblebine / Reuters

Eamon Gilmore addressing the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York last month. Photograph: Ray Stubblebine / Reuters

Wed, Oct 2, 2013, 13:12

There is no convincing argument for a parliament with two chambers in a country the size of Ireland, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

Speaking at the final Labour Party press conference ahead of Friday’s poll, Mr Gilmore said the referendums - the abolition of the Seanad and the establishment of the Court of Criminal Appeal - were both straightforward and he was advocating a Yes vote in both.

We need one effective parliament. We do not need two parliamentary chambers, he said.

Mr Gilmore argued that reforms planned for the Dáil and local government would more than compensate for the abolition of the second chamber.

The party’s director for the campaign, Minister of State Alex White argued that a No vote would not lead to a reformed Seanad.

“In the absence of change, the status quo will remain,” he said.

“A chamber that has long outlived its sell-by-date will remain in place.”

He said none of the proposals to address the elitism of the Seanad had addressed the issue and said the case for the retention of the Seanad had failed.

Party deputy leader and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the Seanad is no longer particularly necessary in terms of Ireland’s parliamentary democracy

“A single reformed chamber is sufficient in terms of Ireland’s needs,” she said.

Mr Gilmore rejected the proposition that the committee system was not working and said the local government reforms being proposed were the most radical during his time in politics.

“The taoiseach and I are meeting other party leaders today to discuss the issue,” he said.