Averil Power criticises government ‘disrespect of democracy’
Fianna Fáil Senator says the government has failed to reform the Seanad after referendum
Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power has criticized the government for failing to reform the Seanad, despite having promised to do so in the wake of the failed referendum on its abolition last year.
In an interview today on The Irish Times podcast, Inside Politics, Senator Power said that the will of the people who voted to keep a reformed Seanad was being ignored.
“Those of us who campaigned to keep the Senate, as I did, were campaigning on a platform of reform, and the people voting to retain the Senate wanted to keep the house so there would be checks and balances, but they also wanted to see a change”, said Senator Power. “It’s ridiculous now that, a year after that referendum, the very things that the Taoiseach criticized about the house are the ones that he’s exploiting”
The Senator was also critical of government plans for reform. “The only reform they’ve accepted so far is to reform how the university seats are elected. Anyone who knows anything about the house knows they’re the only seats that aren’t dominated by government,” said Senator Power.
On her own party’s failure to introduce Seanad reform during 14 years in power, the Senator said it was “regrettable” that a report by then Leader of the Seanad Mary O’Rourke was not implemented.
Power is now one of only two women in the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, and has been openly critical of her party’s record on female representation.
“I don’t think we’ve been proactive enough in reaching out and encouraging them to stand for election”, said Senator Power. She said that Fianna Fail is now taking the issue more seriously.
“We are now looking at it as a party. At our recent think-tank we has four or five key issues, and one of them was gender equality. I’d like to think that the constructive criticism helped a little in making sure it was a priority for those two days” she said.
To listen to the debate on Inside Politics, log on to the show’s soundcloud page, or subscribe for free via iTunes or Stitcher.