Voters urged to question candidates about Seanad reform

Democracy Matters criticises Government for delay in reforming Upper House

 

The Seanad reform campaign group Democracy Matters has criticised the Government for the delay in implementing change to the State’s Upper House.

In the run up to the local and European elections on May 23rd, the group is calling on citizens to remind candidates of the Government’s pledge to reform the Seanad, after a majority voted for its retention in a referendum last October.

Barrister and columnist Noel Whelan said the group were conscious that issues such as the economy and local services may be of more concern to voters, but the elections were also a good time to place the topic of Seanad reform back on the political radar.

“We are asking voters to question candidates as to why [REFORM]has not happened, and what position they have on the matter,” he said.

“We want them to say, there was a referendum eight months ago, and nothing has changed. You have the democratic necessity to come back and ask us for our votes. You have the audacity to ask us for our votes in this exercise in democracy, but you have completely ignored the exercise in democracy that was the referendum last October.”

Democracy Matters president Senator Feargal Quinn said it was an “absurd situation” that one and a half million citizens would still be without a vote in Seanad elections if reform was not enacted, while elected representatives could be entitled to as many as six votes.

“Every citizen [SHOULD BE]asking each candidate as they knock on the door, do you approve of you having five votes and me as a citizen having none?” he said.

Mr Quinn, who founded the Superquinn chain in the early 1960s, said he was “stunned” at how much longer it takes to effect change in politics than in business.

“Last October the people voted and said they wanted change, and very little has happened,” he said.

Senator Katherine Zappone said there was an “urgency” now, “because if we don’t get a bill passed by the end of this year or early in the new year, there will not be enough time to put the changes in place that are required for the next Seanad election”.

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