Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has today launched his party's campaign for the abolition of the Seanad. Speaking at the launch in Dublin this morning Deputy Doherty said fairness, democracy and equality of citizenship demand that the current Seanad be abolished.
"The cronyism and the elitism that are synonymous with the Seanad has fostered the type of politics that has brought this state to its knees.
"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.
"The Seanad has promoted political cronies and allies rather than ideas or visions. And Fianna Fáil, who now seek to preserve the Seanad, 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 was not used to increase the number of women in the Oireachtas or to ensure minorities were represented. In the main it has been a safety net for those who failed to get elected to the Dáil.
"The most damning feature of the Seanad is the elitism, inequality and discrimination that is at its core. There can be no place in a real republic, based on equality, for an elected office to which only a tiny percentage of the population have the right to vote.
"By restricting votes to an elite of those educated in a number of select colleges and City and County Councillors, the Seanad is anomaly in a modern democracy. It runs in the face of the core principal that all citizens are equal. It is obviously wrong to most people that a house of parliament would discriminate against citizens based on where they were educated.
"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. Sinn Féin is appealing to voters to get out and vote in this referendum on October 4th and to Vote Yes."