Seanad is a ‘rigged, elitist’ body with no purpose, says Fine Gael booklet
Publication to be used at meetings
The Seanad: The FG booklet quotes Michael McDowell, one of the leaders of the No campaign, who once described the Seanad as “a cross between a political convalescent home and a crèche.”
The Seanad is a “rigged, elitist” body that serves no useful purpose, according to an information booklet to be launched today by Richard Bruton, Fine Gael’s director of elections for the campaign for a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum.
The booklet will be used at public meetings and during canvassing by Fine Gael and will be distributed to members of the parliamentary party, councillors and the media.
Party sources said at the weekend the feedback from the campaign to date was that people didn’t have enough information about the Seanad and about the case for abolition.
One of the items stressed in the booklet is that the system of election and selection to the Seanad is designed to ensure ultimate Government control of its membership. It points out that 70 per cent of Senators are chosen by existing politicians (226 TDs and outgoing Senators and 780 Councillors) as part of the vocational panel system, with a further 20 per cent selected by the taoiseach of the day to guarantee a clear Government majority.
The booklet also highlights a rule stipulating that at least 40 per cent of winning candidates on the vocational panels must be from among those nominated by existing members of the Dáil and Seanad. “Every one of those elected on these so-called vocational panels in 2011 was a fully whipped member of the major political parties.
“Their connection to the supposed area of expertise is often tenuous or non-existent and they never meet as a group to discuss their area of vocational purpose,” says the booklet.
It says the system of taoiseach’s nominees has often been abused in the past, with appointments made in the two-month period after a general election and before a Seanad election to grant Oireachtas privileges to party loyalists.
The booklet quotes Michael McDowell, one of the leaders of the No campaign, who once described the Seanad as “a cross between a political convalescent home and a crèche.”
The Fine Gael document emphasises that the Seanad is elected by a mere 1 per cent of the population.
Among the other key arguments are that a No vote will ensure that the “Seanad remains in its current toothless, elitist, undemocratic form for years to come.”