Seanad abolition Bill ‘likely to be guillotined’

Murphy says schedule for legislation to abolish upper house has ‘very tight turnaround’


The Government looks likely to guillotine the Bill paving the way for the abolition of Seanad Éireann, the whip of the Dáil’s technical group has said.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said the schedule for the 32nd Amendment of the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Éireann) Bill 2013 involves a very tight turnaround for amendments, which have to submitted by Monday morning.

The remaining stages are earmarked for completion next Thursday as the Government presses to get a number of key pieces of legislation through the Oireachtas by the summer recess.

Ms Murphy said this inevitably will necessitate another guillotine being applied by Government.

“It’s a very tight turnaround for amendments to what Taoiseach sees as most significant reform of governmental system since state was founded,” said Ms Murphy.

The Bill was introduced in the Dáil yesterday by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and is expected to go through second and remaining stages by the end of next week.

No date has been announced for a referendum but it is expected to be held in early October. A new Referendum Commission chaired by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne was established last week.

The Bill is expected to meet a resistance and opposition in the Seanad where the Government’s majority is much tighter than the huge margin it has in the Dáil.

However, most Government senators who openly oppose the abolition of the Upper House have said they will not vote against the passage of the legislation, which gives legal backing to the referendum taking place.

Notwithstanding that, there is always the possibility of one or perhaps more voting against the proposal.

The Seanad does not have the power to reject any piece of legislation, merely to delay its enactment for 90 days, or 21 days in the case of a money Bill.

The Government has guillotined debates on some 52 of the 90 Bills it has introduced in the past two and a half years, despite promising it would move to minimise the controversial practice.