Taoiseach says ‘powerless, elitist’ Seanad unnecessary
Constitution gives Dáil exclusive power to hold Government to account - Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD holds a copy of Bunreacht na hEireann at the RHA Dublin today where he officially launched Fine Gael’s campaign for a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times
Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD at the RHA Dublin where he officially launched Fine Gael’s campaign for a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times
Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD at the RHA Dublin today. He was joined by Richard Bruton TD, Regina Doherty TD , Alan Shatter TD and other party colleagues. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times
Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD aofficially launched Fine Gael’s campaign for a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Constitution confers exclusive power on the Dáil to hold the Government to account as he kicked off Fine Gael’s campaign to scrap the Seanad.
At an event today in Dublin, Mr Kenny said there was no need for a “powerless, elitist” Upper House and said one parliamentary chamber was enough.
The party plans to circulate one million leaflets setting out its case to scrap the House during the course of the campaign.
At the same event , Minister for Justice Alan Shatter strongly urged a Yes vote to establish new Court of Appeal in the second referendum to be held on October 4th.
On the one hand, he said, people they may want to send a message to the Government saying they were going through a tough time. He understood that and empathised with people who have difficulties but said there was no actual requirement for the Seanad.
Referring holding a copy of the Constitution, he went on: “But the people will also understand that the Seanad is not an imperative to hold onto because the peoples’ book points out clearly that the Dáil is the body to hold the executive to account.”
Mr Kenny said to campaign to scrap the Seanad was his alone when he adopted it in opposition. Asked if he would accept an invitation from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to debate the matter on television, he said he was happy to deal with Mr Martin during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil.
“I note that Micheál has challenged me for a debate on this matter. I’m not sure which Micheál wants to turn up here. There was the Micheál that was very adamant about the abolition of the Seanad before the last election and then the new Micheál that said on second thoughts we should consider holding onto this.”
Referring to Fianna Fáil, the Greens and the Progressive Democrats, Mr Kenny argued it was no coincidence that all three parties from the last Government were campaigning to retain the house. Former PD leader Michael McDowell is active in the No campaign.
“Opponents of the Seanad abolition point to the weakness of the Dáil and argue that it’s not working properly. I agree, but that’s a stronger reason for fixing the Dáil, not for keeping the Seanad,” he said.
Mr Shatter said the creation of a new Court of Appeal – with civil and criminal branches – was very much in the public interest, and important for job creation as the speedy resolution of legal disputes was a key consideration for multinational investors.
“Presently, it can take up to four years for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal from the High Court,” he said.
“Should you ever have to appeal a High Court judgment or have a judgment in your favour appealed, it is in your interest that the appeal does not drag on for your years at personal and financial cost”.