Approach to reform of House queried


SEANAD:THE CAREFUL, intelligent and responsible approach of the Government to the children’s referendum was in stark contrast to the proposal to ask the people if they would favour abolition of the Seanad, Katherine Zappone (Ind) said. The kind of analysis that had gone into preparation for the impending referendum had not been evidenced in regard to the one which would determine the fate of the Upper House. Did this not go contrary to responsible governance, she asked.

Dr Zappone was responding to the debate on the paper co-authored by herself and Feargal Quinn (Ind) on radical reform of the House.

Observing that she had heard no calls in the chamber for abolition, she said a number of speakers, including Government members, had accepted the retentionists’ contention that there was no basis for getting rid of the Seanad on financial grounds.

The leader of the House, Maurice Cummins, had taken steps to reform the House, and the question had to be asked as to why those in power were not being supportive. The time for a considered debate on how the Seanad could be reformed was prior to a referendum, not afterwards, Dr Zappone stressed.

There was a need for a banking inquiry to get to the bottom of the continuous and horrendous mismanagement by bank directors, Lorraine Higgins (Lab) said. Bad decisions resulting in hundreds of thousands of customers being unable to get access to their own cash; the increasing of interest rates without consultation with the Government or the Central Bank; the second worst euro zone record of lending to the small- and medium-enterprise sector; and the erroneous and defamatory reporting of people’s credit histories to the Irish Credit Bureau were among the features of banking activity in this country.

Despite the “lawless state” of the Irish banks, the financial regulator had yet to intervene, while the Central Bank appeared to be vocal on macro issues only and not on national banking issues which were of paramount importance, she said.