Reforming the Seanad

 

A chara, –Diarmaid Ferriter’s article, “Referendum defeat does not have to spell trouble” (Opinion, October 12th) needs to be challenged. Having given us a history lesson on past referendums, he concludes his article by implying that the onus for reform of the Seanad should fall on Enda Kenny. In fairness to Mr Kenny, he believed that the Seanad was unreformable, as I did and still do. Why then should the onus for reform be placed on him?

Surely it should fall on those who passionately campaigned for Seanad reform, namely Democracy Matters and Fianna Fáil? It is now up to them to come up with an acceptable reform package and, if needs be, to persuade the Government to put this package before the citizens of this State in a referendum. Mr Ferriter also stated, erroneously in my opinion, that not  reforming the Seanad “will be seen as a result that prompted a determination to maintain the status quo”. Not correct.

When I voted Yes to abolish the Seanad on October 4th, I voted to change the status quo and  for a new beginning in Irish political life. Those who voted No voted for the maintenance of the status quo and for the continued existence of that elitist, anachronistic political institution. Nowhere on the ballot paper was the word “reform” mentioned.

In relation to reform, the idea of giving a Seanad vote to all third-level graduates is being suggested. This again is an elitist, segregationist, non-democratic suggestion, in my opinion. So those who never get the privilege of attending a third-level institution don’t get to cast their vote.

Regarding “real” reform, may I suggest the following: 1. Reduce the number of senators from 60 to 30. 2. Pay each a salary of 50 per cent of a TD’s salary. 3. Give them no expenses, allowances, free parking or perks. Let them commute to their place of work like everybody else. 4. First preference given to young, able, bright, unemployed people who have a vested interest in creating a new Ireland for themselves and others. 5. Introduce a culture of accountability and responsibility where non-performing and low-attending senators are brought to book and moved on. 6. Allow no cronyism, no gombeenism and absolutely no nepotism.

Lets’s make a fresh start and begin to remove the barriers between the “haves” and the “have nots” in our society for once and for all. Future generations will thank us for it. – Is mise,

MÍCHEÁL Ó RUAIRC, 

Orchard Grove,

Coolmine,

Blanchardstown, Dublin 15.