Seanad votes to hold referendum on its abolition
Fine Gael tweets October 4th vote date but later says this was based on news report
Earlier a claim by Fianna Fail Senator Diarmuid Wilson that Government Senators were being bribed with constituency projects to support the referendum to abolish the Seanad was strongly rejected in the House today.
Mr Wilson said he was “aware of Government Senators who have been told and promised that they will get certain projects if they stay in line’’. When Seanad Fine Gael leader Maurice Cummins challenged him on the claim, Mr Wilson insisted what he was saying was a fact.
Minister of State for Finance Brian Hayes said the charge was very serious and Mr Wilson had parliamentary privilege and should substantiate it. “Otherwise, that charge remains on the record of this House,’’ he added.
Independent TD David Norris intervened to say he had asked that the charge be investigated by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. Mr Norris said everybody knew that “jobs and preferment’’ had been offered.
Mr Hayes advised Mr Norris to “stop abusing your privilege in this House’’.
Earlier, Mr Wilson said the Bill was tinkering with the Constitution and was wrong. “Colleagues voting for this Bill are voting to get rid of this House,’’ he added.
Also speaking, Fianna Fail Senator Darragh O’Brien said no Government Senator should come into the house again with any amendment. “You have voted no confidence in the chamber you purport to respect….none of you deserve any respect from this side after voting for this” , he said.
“The day that politicians are afraid of the public is the day you leave democracy,” Labour Senator Jimmy Harte said. “If the public do not abolish the Seanad it will become a much stronger organisation,” he said.
Independent Senator Ronan Mullen said Taoiseach Enda Kenny reminded him “of the Wizard of Oz” . “A relatively small man hidden behind a smokescreen of advisers and handlers but making a loud noise, and certainly managing to scare all the people under his command,” he said.
Fianna Fail Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú said senators were “trying to sell a pig in a poke to the people who already don’t trust us. Whatever outcome of the referendum, do we honestly believe the body politic will be enhanced and enriched?”
Independent Senator Jilllian Van Turnhout said the 90 day delay in the Bill should not be invoked “This is a question for the people and the people alone to answer”.
The Seanad is also due to vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill later today.