The future of the Seanad

Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 11:15

Sir, – Richard Bruton’s glib assertion that “abolishing the Seanad would save the country €100 million over a five-year Dáil term” (Home News, July 15th) surely deserves a cost breakdown to back it up. Could he also tell taxpayers the cost to the public purse of the swarm of special advisers, PR consultants and other hangers-on over a similar period?

The Seanad needs reform, certainly, but governments over a long period have known this and failed to act on the various recommendations brought forward. The fatuous statement of Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty TD on the “shockingly undemocratic” of the Seanad reveals her ignorance on what has gone before and suggests that she is not yet on top of her brief.

If we are to have months of Government-speak along the lines of these shabby offerings from Mr Bruton and Ms Doherty then it will be a grim debate indeed.

The constitutional reforms that led to the unicameral systems in Scandinavia were not the opportunistic tinkering under consideration here. Denmark’s constitution underwent revision in 1953, while Sweden opted for a new constitution in 1975. Furthermore, both countries enjoy a robust system of local and regional government (in sharp contrast to Ireland) and hold general elections every four years.

Were we to have meaningful constitutional reform it would need to go a lot further than our present generation of career gravy train politicians would be willing to swallow.

An entirely new constitution that radically reforms how both Houses of the Oireachtas operate would find favour with many. – Yours, etc,

BERNARD KEOGH

Dollymount Park,

Clontarf,

Dublin 3.