Academics against abolition of Seanad

 

SEANAD:IT WAS bad news for the Taoiseach that not even one member of a panel of international experts had supported his position on the future of the Seanad, David Norris (Ind) said.

Remarking that he had chaired a discussion last Monday by leading academics and commentators on parliamentary structures, Mr Norris said that when asked to indicate their preferences, 90 per cent of participants had supported retention of the Seanad, but with reform. The remaining 10 per cent had abstained.

He said it was lamentable that the proceedings had not been recorded – though it might be just as well, as the powers-that-be had not got the response they wanted.

The principles of the United Nations to which this country had signed up would be violated by a Bill to be presented to the Seanad, Mr Norris contended.

A former leader of the House, Dr Maurice Manning, had suggested that there was a gradual move to absorb the Irish Human Rights Commission into a government department, rather than respecting the distance that must exist between such organisations and departments.

The Bill made it clear that the Government was nominating – on a gender basis – in advance of the composition of the new arrangement, its own person.

Claiming that An Taisce usurped its powers and functions on a regular basis, Leas Cathaoirleach Denis O’Donovan (FF) said it had had the audacity to challenge the autonomy of Cork County Council on its policy of one-off housing. When there had been abuses of land rezonings and the creation of ghost estates, this body had been as silent as a lamb.

Mr Norris responded: “That is not true.” Mr O’Donovan said there should be a full debate in the House to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding An Taisce: “Let us see who they are and take away the mask.”