Socialist Party calls for Yes vote in Seanad referendum

MEP Paul Murphy says people should not use mood of anger at Government to reject abolition in October ballot

Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy has called for a Yes vote in the referendum on Seanad abolition. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy has called for a Yes vote in the referendum on Seanad abolition. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 17:01

The Socialist Party has called for a Yes vote in the referendum on the abolition of the Seanad on October 4th, stating that the institution was “elitist and undemocratic”.

The party’s MEP and campaign director Paul Murphy today carried out a door-to-door leaflet campaign at Oliver Bond Street in Dublin’s south inner city.

Mr Murphy said the party wanted to bring a “class perspective” to the debate and that he wanted to highlight the fact that not a single person living in the flats at Oliver Bond Street was entitled to vote in Seanad elections.

“In Ailesbury Road alone in Ballsbridge there are 39 eligible voters,” he said.

“We understand and identify with the mood of anger and distrust in which people hold this government and how it may manifest itself in boosting a No vote. Our message to people is, regardless of the Government’s fake commitment to radical political reform, let’s seize this opportunity to end this elitist home for aspiring TDs and former TDs.”

Mr Murphy said the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition thought it was meeting the desire of many ordinary people for “real change” by proposing the abolition of the Seanad.

His party believed the upper house should be scrapped, but it was more important that “the austerity policies of Fine Gael and Labour in the Dáil have to be fought as well”.

Mr Murphy said some people he had approached today did not know what the referendum was about.

He said people were angry with the Government. But the party believed the opportunity should be taken to abolish the “elitist” institution and then to fight austerity, which was being promoted by the Dáil and then rubber-stamped by the Seanad.

He did not believe the Seanad should be retained as a potential check and balance on executive power.

“The real check on a government has to be people power, to keep people mobilised,” he said.

“The idea of the Seanad from its very inception was not designed to be a people’s chamber. It’s designed to be a conservative check from the very start. That’s the idea of upper houses, is to have a more restricted franchise.”

He said the political establishment would not deliver on “progressive, democratic reform” of the institution and that people should seize the opportunity now to get rid of something that was “incredibly undemocratic”.

He said the party would use as its campaign slogan: “Make your first vote on the Seanad your last.”