FG leader focused on reforming politics


KENNY SPEECH:THE PROPOSAL to abolish the Seanad was made by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny in a speech at his party’s presidential dinner on Saturday night which focused on the need to reform the political system.

“The Irish people need to see that real change, change that will help restore the credibility of the political system, is delivered.

“To persuade the electorate that we are serious about change, we ourselves have to embody that change.

“In these tough times, Government needs to lead by example. To gain the authority to drive the scale of change needed throughout the system, I will start with the political system itself,” he said, pledging to cut the pay of the Taoiseach and Ministers.

“For the last three months, Phil Hogan, our spokesman on the environment, has been developing an agenda for a new politics in Ireland. His mandate from me was simple. See that real change is brought about. We will shortly publish a report on the new politics. But tonight I would like to focus on a few key areas where a Fine Gael government would introduce radical change.

“I believe the Seanad should be abolished, and the next Fine Gael government will put this to the people. I have come to the conclusion that a second house of the Oireachtas can no longer be justified. In abolishing Seanad Éireann, I have examined the outcome of similar decisions in countries such as Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand. Our two-house Oireachtas is an odd man out in Europe. Two-thirds of all European parliaments are unicameral. Those that are not tend to be large or federal.”

Mr Kenny added that a Fine Gael government would also cut the number of TDs in the Dáil by at least 20, and would review the electoral system with a view to allowing for the election of a limited number of people with particular expertise gained outside of politics.

He said the changes would save the taxpayer an estimated €150 million over a five-year Dáil term.

“In order to facilitate these and other political reforms a Fine Gael government would hold a constitutional referendum within a year of taking office.

“The new politics is not just about reforming the Oireachtas. It is also about transforming how the State works. We believe that the huge centralisation of power in Ireland is incompatible with a healthy Republic and actively encourages inefficiency.

Under the new politics, we will redistribute power from the executive to the Oireachtas; from central to local government; from the State to the citizen.”