Scrapping Seanad ‘not a power grab’, Gilmore says

Labour begins campaign ahead of October referendum

Minister of State Alex White, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton at a Labour Party press conference to call for a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Abolition of the Seanad and the creation of a Civil Court of Appeal. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Minister of State Alex White, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton at a Labour Party press conference to call for a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Abolition of the Seanad and the creation of a Civil Court of Appeal. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Wed, Sep 11, 2013, 17:38

Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore has dismissed the notion that the Government is engaged in a power grab in the referendum to scrap the Seanad.

Launching Labour’s campaign for the October 4th poll, Mr Gilmore said a small country such as Ireland had no need for two parliamentary chamber s and a looming reform of Dáil procedures will be sufficient to uphold democracy.

“This is not a power grab. This is about asking the people of the country first of all to make a decision, a very straightforward question of whether we have one parliamentary chamber or two,” Mr Gilmore told reporters in Dublin.

While many Labour senators and some of its TDs are sceptical about Seanad abolition, the Tánaiste indicated that public representatives who do not toe the party line will not face sanction. All TDs and Senators had voted for the referendum Bill as they obliged to do, he noted.

“I think it’s only fair to say that in all political parties there are individual public representatives who take a view different to the official view of the party,” he said.

“This is something we’ve had before. I recall during the course of a particular European referendum some public representatives took a position different to the official party position and there were no consequences in those cases.”