FF and McDowell accused of ‘hypocrisy’ over No stance in Seanad referendum

Socialists urge Yes vote outside FF’s Dublin offices

Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy has accused Fianna Fáil and Micheal McDowell of hypocrisy in urging a No vote in the referendum on abolishing the Seanad.

Mr Murphy and Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins today erected a poster outside Fianna Fail's Dubli n headquarters to highlight the "inconsistency" of the No side in the referendum debate.

The poster featured photos of Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Mr McDowell alongside quotes from the Fianna Fáil 2011 manifesto and from Mr McDowell in 1992 questioning the point of the Seanad.

Mr McDowell, a former leader of the Progressive Democrats, is involved with the Democracy Matters group which is campaigning for a No vote.

“We are here to suggest to the Democracy Matters group that a more appropriate name for their organisation is Hypocrisy Matters,” Mr Murphy said.

“The cynical hypocrisy of Fianna Fáil is self-evident,” he added. Fianna Fáil had been in power for 21 of the last 26 years and had “done nothing” to reform the Seanad but was now urging such reform.

Calling for a yes vote in the referendum, Mr Murphy said the the public should not “ be duped by these establishment figures and their promises of reform”.

When in power, Fianna Fáil showed it did not believe in general democracy while as Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell had implemented “several assaults” on democratic rights, including Anti Social Behaviour Orders in 2005 and introducing “draconian” data retention laws, he said.

Fianna Fáil and Mr McDowell are engaged in “nothing more than a cynical exercise to re-launch their political careers,” he believed.

Mr Higgins said, while he considered the Taoiseach’s support for abolition of the Seanad as “cynical”, it was wrong for No campaigners to describe the proposed abolition as “a power grab”.

“There is no power to grab,” he said. The Seanad was “elitist and totally undemocratic” and had “done nothing” to check the excesses of the boom and property bubble which had imposed massive debt including €9 billion interest this year on ordinary Irish people despite their having “no hand, act or part” in creating it.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times