Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has announced that Sinn Féin will be calling for a yes vote in the upcoming referendum to abolish the Seanad, which will take place on Friday 4th October.
Doherty, the party’s referendum campaign director, said the upcoming referendum on the abolition of the Seanad should have been held in the context of an informed debate about root and branch political reform.
“It aimed at empowering citizens and making political institutions relevant, modern, transparent and accountable.
“It was a fundamental mistake for the government not to refer the issue of the Seanad to the constitutional convention where other issues of constitutional importance are being discussed.
“Sinn Féin argued this during the course of the Seanad Referendum Bill. However, the government refused to take this course and we are now faced with a choice between keeping the Seanad as it currently stands or abolition and in that scenario Sinn Féin believes that it should be abolished.
“The Seanad is elite and out of touch. It has 60 members, 43 of whom are elected by county and city councillors, TDs and Senators, six are elected by graduates of NUI colleges and Trinity College Dublin, and eleven are appointed by the Taoiseach. It is accountable to nobody. More than 99 percent of the population have no say in who gets elected to the Seanad.
“The government has an inbuilt majority, so instead of holding Fine Gael and Labour to account, the Seanad rubber stamps government policy.
“In the last two and a half years, the Seanad supported the government on every single occasion, including the introduction of the property tax, cuts to disability payments and the promissory note deal which is costing the tax payer €30billion.
“And it was the same in the previous 14 years when Fianna Fáil led governments blocked any reform of the Seanad and used it to reward their political cronies. Since the late 1970s, there have been successive reports produced proposing reform of the Seanad, but not one has been implemented.
“Our campaign for the abolition of the Seanad will be formally launched in the coming weeks.”