I refer to an article published on your website on Monday 2nd September and comments made by Ógra Fianna Fáil Gaoth Dobhair regarding the Seanad Referendum Campaign. It would appear that the only reason for the existence of this organisation is to issue statements attacking Sinn Féin, which I suppose in a roundabout way is the greatest compliment to Pearse Doherty and Sinn Féin, who continue to lead the way in challenging the cronyism, gombeen politics and status quo which allowed Fianna Fáil to remain in power, leading to the destruction of our economy, the erosion of our sovereignty and the heartbreak of so many people across this state.
While I commend any young person who gets involved in politics, I would respectfully suggest that the members of Ógra Fianna Fáil examine their own party’s record on this issue before issuing statements, which frankly do their organisation further discredit. If the young blood of Fianna Fáil want to convince the people of this county that the party has changed, matured and is ready to truly defend the interests of the Irish people, how can they feasibly argue to retain an elite, undemocratic institution – an institution which they campaigned to abolish in the 2011 General Election?
In recent years the only time most people will have heard anything about the Seanad was when former Fianna Fáil Senator Ivor Calley was investigated for abusing the expenses regime. Many people – including Michael McDowell and Michael Martin who were part of government during the Ahern years and to whom the Seanad represents a potential political lifeline – now claim to be committed to reforming the Seanad . You should judge these assertions by their actions over recent decades. When they had the opportunity to reform it they did nothing. It really takes the biscuit that as soon as their backsides hit the opposition benches Fianna Fáil suddenly develop an appetite for political reform, which is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to maintain the status quo and defend the political elite.
Fianna Fáil is the party which has done the most to reinforce the perception of the Seanad as a hot house of cronyism. The system of Taoiseach’s nominees in particular during the Bertie Ahern era was used to promote close political allies and cronies rather than doing anything to bring more diversity into the political system. It may seem unbelievable but people have been nominated to the Seanad merely to secure parking and access to the Dail bar for life! Examples of these so-called weekend Senators include current Fianna Fáil General Secretary Sean Dorgan.
For most people the Seanad is irrelevant. They have never had a vote in a Seanad election, nor has the Seanad had any impact on their daily lives and struggles. With an in-built government majority, because of the number of Taoiseach’s nominees, it rubber stamps government decisions. In the last two-and-a-half years, the Seanad has 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 €30 billion.
Sinn Féin seeks to build a New Republic on this island based on equality for all citizens. We want to see an end to privilege and elitism, and to the cronyism and influence of vested interests that have so damaged politics in this country. Fairness, democracy and equality of citizenship demand that the current Seanad be abolished and I for one will certainly be voting yes on October 4th.
Is mise le meas,
Sinn Féin Republican Youth