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The Seanad is an ineffective institution that does nothing to strengthen democracy in Ireland, according to Fine Gael Deputy Sean Kyne.
The Galway West TD made the comment after he was this week appointed Fine Gael’s Deputy Director for the North/West Region for the Seanad Abolition Referendum.
Speaking on his appointment, Deputy Kyne said the public will have an opportunity later this year to reduce the number of national politicians by 30 per cent and save €20 million a year by voting ‘yes’ to abolish the Seanad.
“Every family in Ireland has had to make sacrifices, and I think it is only right that the political system does the same. By abolishing the Seanad, we can save €100 million over the course of a Dáil term; a considerable sum of money which could be spent on public services.”
He said abolishing the Seanad would reduce the number of national politicians by 30 per cent, bringing us in line with our European counterparts.
“Almost no other country of our size has two separate chambers of parliament. Progressive small countries like Denmark and Sweden have shown that they can have a better democracy at less cost with single chamber parliaments. This is the time to make that change in Ireland too, and put the money where it is most needed.”
He said that the Seanad is “shockingly undemocratic”, that just one per cent of the population voted to elect the current Seanad, and that it doesn’t do anything that isn’t already done in the Dáil.
“And the last time the Seanad actually rejected a draft law was 50 years ago. More of the time it just rubberstamps measures already approved by the Dáil. I firmly believe that this is a luxury the political system can no longer afford.
“Those opposing the Referendum will claim that the Seanad should be reformed. But ten reports have been published on reforming the Seanad, and yet we still have the same undemocratic, ineffective Upper House.
“Rather than putting forward another plan to find a purpose for the Seanad, this Government is asking a much more fundamental question; do we actually need the Seanad?”
He added that, as a first time TD, he has seen at close quarters how ineffectively the Seanad operates.
“It does nothing to strengthen our democracy. And I strongly believe that we can and should deliver more accountable, transparent Government with a single chamber parliament, bringing ourselves into line with other small countries in Europe and saving €20 million a year in the process.”