It’s not that the Seanad doesn’t have a positive impact on ordinary people’s lives or that it has a negative impact– the truth is it doesn’t have any impact whatsoever.
Those arguing for it’s retention have been unable to state a single significant contribution that the Seanad has made to improve Irish society.
Certainly, for political cronies it has given them access to big salaries and pensions, to car parking in Leinster House and access to the members bar for life.
But for most people it remains a mysterious arm of government.
The Seanad, modelled on the House of Lords, is an affront to democracy because it goes against the most basic principal of a modern democratic electoral system – the principal of equality between citizens - ‘one person one vote’.
It is elitist, undemocratic and outdated. That’s not to say that everyone who ever sat in it are all those things but the body itself has no role in a modern society.
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. There is little value in a chamber that is less about checks and balances and more about rubber-stamping government policy.
There is an accusation that the proposal to abolish the Seanad is ‘a power grab’. This would be a good argument if it were true. But it’s not. It is a lazy argument by those seeking to exploit the public’s justifiable anger at a government which has failed to deliver on its promises. The Seanad doesn’t have power to grab from it.
Senators cannot even put questions to ministers, they cannot prevent a bill from being passed into law. They can delay a bill, for just 90 days. And the last time the Seanad did this was 1964 – it was a Pawnbrokers Bill – and the Seanad voted against it by accident. They cannot delay a ‘money bill’ at all.
Nobody in this debate has tried to justify the Seanad as it currently exists although some have argued that it has made some amendments to legislation in recent years or that it has provided a place for some ‘brilliant’, academic people or alternative voices over the years that wouldn’t otherwise have been heard.
Of the amendments proposed and adopted by the Seanad in recent years they were almost all government amendments and the rest were agreed in advance by government.
As for the space it provides for ‘alternative’ voices; I won’t cast any comment one way or another on those ‘radicals’ to which opponents of this referendum refer. What I will say is that with radical political reform there can be space for different voices to be articulated in government– either by way of committee membership or through the introduction of new ways to elect TD’s such as a partial list system.
Which brings us to the big argument of the opponents of the constitutional referendum. “Don’t abolish it – reform it” they say.
Now, it’s ironic that those who argue this point most loudly are those who were in the best position to introduce such reforms in recent years.
The Green party –remember them – they want a reformed Seanad, they say. They never did an ounce to achieve it between 2007-2011 when they were in government.
The PD’s, we remember them alright, and Michael McDowell. They didn’t do a tap to bring about reform during their long period of government from 1997 – 2007. This probably isn’t surprising considering Michael and his party had previously campaigned to abolish of the Seanad. We can speculate as to why there is now a turnaround in this thinking but I suppose it’s not hard to understand how someone who is on the record as stating that inequality is good in an economy would also believe that it’s good in the political system as well.
And of course, we have those champions of reform in Fianna Fáil who didn’t have one term of government, or two, or three but have had decades of opportunity to radically alter the shape of the Seanad but chose time and time again to use it as a prop for their own party interests.
For Fianna Fáil the Seanad has always been an instrument of their power – not a check or balance to it – it was where they provided a political lifeline for former TD’s or provided an office and perks to aspiring candidates. As I’ve drove around Dublin this evening looking at Fianna Fáil posters on this referendum that are 90% covered with images of its local election candidates I couldn’t help but think that, even when they’re fighting for it’s survival, Fianna Fáil cannot help themselves but use the Seanad for their own party objectives.
Such has been the abject scandal that is the Seanad that Fianna Fáil actually committed themselves in the last General Election to supporting its abolishment. We used to have to wait until they got into government before Fianna Fáil broke pre-election promises – it now appears they’re just as adapt of doing it in opposition.
Micheal Martin said this morning that they are unhappy with the government’s proposals for Dáil and wider political reform – well join the club. But to argue that a government that won’t commit to real Dáil reform will, on the back of a referendum defeat, commit themselves to radically reforming the second chamber isn’t naivety – it is deceitful.
The political establishment in this state is not capable of agreement on what a reformed Seanad would look like and even if they were that reform would not necessarily be what the people who vote on October 4th would want to see.
If Fianna Fáil and the continuity PD’s want a reformed Seanad they should vote to abolish it on referendum day. They can then put proposals for a new chamber before the people in another plebiscite and it will be the electorate, rather than politicians, who will pass judgement.
As it stands under the constitution, even with the reforms suggested by opponents of this amendment the Taoiseach of any given day will still be in a position to appoint his/her cronies to that second chamber.
The next Seanad election, if this referendum isn’t carried, will likely take place in 2016. There will have been no reform in the meantime. We will be left, on the centenary of the Easter 1916 rising, will the useless, undemocratic body, which even those who want to retain it accept is not fit for any purpose.
I don’t like the thoughts of that. On October 4th, I will happily vote Yes – I encourage and implore you all to do likewise.
Note to editors
Yes side: Matt Carthy, Charlie Flanagan TD, Eoin O’Malley, Jason O’Mahony
No side: Micheal McDowell, Noel Whelan, Ronan Lupton and Mark Daly
Sinn Féin finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, has said the new targets, for concluded agreements on mortgages, lack ambition and are wide open to abuse.
“The setting of concrete targets for conclusions, rather than just offers by the banks, is welcome but overdue.
“I am disappointed that the targets of only 15% concluded by the end of this year, moving up to only 25% three months later, lack ambition.
“More seriously, today’s statement from the Central Bank is tellingly silent in what it considers to be a “concluded agreement”.
“Unless further clarification is issued we can only presume that they will count repossessions or deals imposed under threat of repossession as “concluded agreements”.
“The process of setting targets has been abused by the banks which have relied on legal letters to meet their targets. The Central Bank, and if necessary Minister Noonan, must clarify immediately that the targets will not be met by moving down the repossession route.
“My office has received many examples of banks abusing the system and simply moving to the legal route as a first step. As long as this is tolerated any targets are meaningless.
“Once again, I am calling for Minister Noonan and the Central Bank to stand up to the banks and make it clear that these targets are for meaningful solutions and that threatening repossession cannot count towards meeting targets. ”
Sinn Féin EU candidate Liadh Ní Riada has commended the Ballyhea protesters who are taking their protest to Brussels today.
“The Ballyhea protesters have been one of the most consistent protest groups in recent years. They have been holding weekly marches against the bank bailout since March 2011.
“Not only have they been protesting but they have also put forward their own solutions to the economic crisis which they are to be commended for.
“Today they are taking their protest to Brussels where they will be met by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson and I want to wish them all the best.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane has said that the event held in the Assembly to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Dublin Lockout was a reminder that workers rights need to be protected.
Ms. Ruane said,
“I was delighted that the Assembly have held a memorial lecture to mark the 100th anniversary of the Dublin Lock Out. The lecture is part of a series of commemorations to mark the centenary of events that are approaching over the next ten years.
“The lecture given by Dr Emmett O’Connor, senior lecturer in History from the University of Ulster was very informative but it also highlighted issues that need to be addressed today.
“100 years on we still are still striving for workers rights as many have been eroded over the past thirty years with economies being dictated to by big banks and multi national organisations who’s only aim is to make huge profits.
“Whether it is in Ireland or abroad, workers are now being treated as a commodity and we must learn the lessons of the Dublin Lock Out and begin to treat workers as people and ensure that their rights are enshrined in law.”
This is due to the current Chair Sue Ramsey’s temporary absence because of illness.
The Foyle MLA said:
“Sue has been doing a great job as chair and hopefully she will return to the committee as soon as possible in good health.
“In the meantime I will endeavour to do my best to follow on the example Sue has given of being an efficient, effective and fair Chair of the Health Committee.
“There are many pressing issues facing the Health Department, not least the issue of sexual exploitation involving some young people in care homes, Transforming Your Care and the health minister’s foolish action in appealing the court decision to allow civil partnerships and same sex couples to adopt.” END
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, has welcomed the results of a Red C Poll, which examined Irish people’s attitude to neutrality and any Irish involvement in the Syrian war.
The poll, commissioned by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), found that approximately 8 out of 10 Irish citizens agree that Ireland should have a policy of neutrality, which was roughly the same number of people who believe Ireland should not support war in Syria without a UN Mandate.
Speaking at the launch of the poll results, Deputy Crowe said:
“I welcome the findings of this Red C Poll and I would like to thank PANA for commissioning it.
“This poll proves that an overwhelming majority of Irish citizens agree that Ireland should have a policy of neutrality and these findings are extremely timely considering Minister Shatter’s attempts to drive Ireland away from any policy of neutrality.
“In April Minister Shatter gave an interview to the NATO Review, in which he stated that neutrality doesn’t have any major relevance today and that Irish public don’t tune into these things.
“This poll proves how out of touch the Minister and the Government are with the Irish people.
“While Minister Shatter may believe neutrality is out dated, the vast majority of Irish people disagree, especially those in the 18-35 age group. 85% of people in this group agree Ireland should have a policy of neutrality; the highest support among any age group.
“This poll also reveals a lot about Irish attitudes to the war in Syria. Sinn Féin has long held the position that lifting the EU arms embargo, or a foreign bombing campaign, wouldn’t bring peace to Syria. Only a negotiated peace settlement and process will do that, and the vast majority of Irish people agree.
“Sinn Féin also recently opposed the deployment of Irish Defence Force troops to the Golan Heights. While the mission was mandated by the UN, sending these troops to the Golan Heights is not a simple or straightforward decision, as their impartiality and neutrality is comprised because of the EU’s decision to not renew its arms embargo on Syria.
“We called a vote on the plans to send these troops to Syria on June 18 and only 7 other TDs, all independents, supported us in this vote. Yet this poll shows that 61% of Irish citizens agree with us.
“Sinn Féin is committed to promoting a policy of positive Irish neutrality. We are in favour of an independent and progressive Irish international relations policy, which opposes military alliances, and works for international co-operation and conflict negotiation, leading to democratic social change, and respect for human rights, universal demilitarisation and nuclear disarmament.
“To this end we will be making a submission to the new White Paper on Defence next month, in which we will robustly outline why Ireland should follow a policy of neutrality.
“The government needs to take heed of this poll and realise that the vast majority of Irish people want the policy of positive neutrality that Sinn Féin advocate."
Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson has tabled an amendment to the EU calling for financial support for non-governmental organisations promoting regional and minority languages.
Martina Anderson pointed out that:
"Speakers of Regional and Minority Languages constitute 10% of the EU population yet receive only 1% of EU language funding.
Ms Anderson continued:
"Support is needed for effective participation by minority language organisations. The Pilot Project I am proposing will allow organisations to exchange best practice in education as well as research and share and trial relevant new language technologies which may prove crucial in helping to revitalise lesser-used and endangered languages across the EU.
"The pilot project, in which I hope language organisations in Ireland will actively participate, will also support language organisations in accessing various EU funding streams, something I would encourage language organisations in Ireland to do.
"Last week the European Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a report on lesser-used and endangered languages, which I welcomed. This proposed amendment to the EU Budget provides an opportunity for MEPs to make a contribution to give effect in some small way to some of the important elements of that report."
Speaking before travelling to the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy said:
“As well as taking this opportunity to update Lib Dem MPs and members on recent developments in the north of Ireland, I will be raising with them the considerable public concern that people who have suffered a miscarriage of justice could soon be blocked from getting compensation if they cannot actually prove that they are innocent.
”I will highlight the need for Liberal Democrat MPs to support changes to a Bill currently going through Westminster inorder to address these public concerns.”
The British government is seeking to change the law significantly and clause 143 of their Bill would put the onus on the individual seeking compensation to prove themselves to be innocent. A miscarriage of justice would be categorized as such ‘if and only if the new or newly discovered fact shows beyond reasonable doubt that the person was innocent of the offence’.
Conor Murphy explained, “The British government say they are clarifying the law, because courts have interpreted the words ’miscarriage of justice’ in different ways. Liberty and other human rights NGOs, including the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), have raised concerns about this. They are saying that clause 143 will not merely clarify the law but change it significantly, and most worryingly, JUSTICE has stated that the cases of the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, the Maguire Seven, the Cardiff Three and Judith Ward would not satisfy the proposed innocence test.”
“This is potentially a very concerning development, and I believe Lib Dem MPs in Westminster must support amendments to avoid this clause passing in the next debate, on October 14th”.
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Chris Hazzard has called for free school meals to be extended for all children attending school.
Speaking in the Assembly Mr. Hazzard said,
“In recent years Sinn Féin has worked to increase the number of children entitled to free school meals and indeed the Minister John O’Dowd recently announced that the criteria for attaining free school meals would be standardised across primary and post primary schools.
“This would mean that children entitled to free school meals in primary would carry that entitlement into post primary school.
“Many children were going to school without a proper lunch due to families being unable to either supply a packed lunch or pay for school meals. It is important that children are able to have a healthy meal during their time at school.
“While welcoming the Minister's commitment to date on the issue I am asking him to investigate extending the free school meal system to all children attending school. This would bring equality to the system and ensure that every child would get at least one substantial meal during term time.
Sinn Féin housing spokesperson, Dessie Ellis TD, has welcomed Minister Hogan’s statement today heralding a process of engagement in the Priory Hall scandal.
Today Minister Hogan asked Department of Environment officials to meet with Dublin City Council, the Irish Banking Federation, NAMA, former residents and other stakeholders and to report back to government within 21 days with a proposed resolution.
Deputy Ellis continued:
"This is a welcome step, as is the recognition by the Minister that the resolution process under Judge Finnegan had failed utterly to bring closure to former Priory Hall residents.
“I ask that the Minister do all he can, at this very late stage, to ensure this new approach is focused on the needs of former residents.
“These families, two years after evacuation from Priory Hall, have had to struggle to get their case heard and for justice. They saw their dream homes become a millstone round their necks. They must get resolution.
“Without meaningful resolution for the families of Priory Hall the process is not worth having. We need to see mortgages transferred to other properties and a final close to this human tragedy."
Laganbank Sinn Féin Councillor Deirdre Hargey has expressed her concern after a two-year-old child found a bag of drugs on the Ormeau Road.
Councillor Hargey said:
"I am deeply concerned and angry that this child has been put into grave danger by people who have absolutely nothing to offer this community and seek only to make profit from other peoples misery.
“We could be dealing with a very different situation today if the child had attempted to swallow the contents of this bag, which I believe may be mephedrone.
“The bag had been left in a street where children play all the time and I believe it had been deliberately left there for collection with no regard for any dangers.
“I would urge parents to be vigilant and advise children not to pick up anything in the street which they unaware of.
“I would also urge anyone who may find such substances or who has any information regarding illegal drug use to contact the PSNI immediately or a trusted individual such as community representatives, the local priest or indeed myself or my office.
“Illegal drug use and those who profit from it are a scourge on our communities and deserve no protection from the community."
Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has just returned from the United States where he participated in a series of engagements with Irish American business representatives and US political opinion makers.
The Newry Armagh MP said the primary aim of his trip was to promote a discourse on the economic benefits of an integrated island-wide economy in Ireland.
While in the States, Mr Murphy travelled to Washington DC where he met with representatives from Vice-President Joe Biden’s Office, State Department Officials and Congressman Ritchie Neal. He also had a very useful meeting with CEO of Mutual of America, Tom Moran.
Conor Murphy said:
“I also had discussions with individuals, both Irish American and others who have maintained an interest in Irish affairs. This visit is just the beginning of what we believe will be a serious debate on the economic merits of Irish unity.
“These were all very useful meetings which will inform future discussion. All those I met showed a deep interest in the economic arguments that Sinn Féin is putting forward.
“I impressed on all of them that although the cultural and historical arguments for the reunification of Ireland have been well rehearsed to date, there is a growing realisation that economically unification also makes sense.
“There is no merit in operating two education systems, two healthcare systems, two sets of business rules and administration and two currencies on one small island.
“The Irish diaspora has historically made a positive contribution to developments in Ireland and I believe that it will do so on this issue also.
“I hope that through this visit the Irish community in America – and particularly those in positions of influence - will be better informed about the situation in Ireland, participate in the debate and assist in moving us in the direction of a better economic future as well as a political one.” CRÍOCH/END
Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has today launched a ten year economic development strategy for the southeast region on behalf of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
Senator Cullinane has spent the last year gathering information, speaking to local businesses and communities and developing the strategy on behalf of the committee.
Speaking this morning he said;
“The Southeast region faces many challenges including high unemployment, low educational attainment levels and social disadvantage. However, it has many strengths, including an improved road infrastructure, water and waste water treatment plants, the Rosslare and Waterford Ports and the institutes of technology.
“The region is well placed in the areas of health, life sciences and medical devices, financial and internationally traded services, tourism, culture and the arts, agri-business, food production and technology, engineering, mobile technologies, software development and digital media and bio-technology and the green economy.
“The Southeast can focus on its key strengths in tourism, agri-business and food production, developing a critical mass of expertise through improved educational attainment, delivery of a technological university and strong research and development.
“The region must maximise the potential of existing key assets such as the two ports of national significance – Rosslare and Waterford – the regional airport and improvements to the road and rail network.
“The proposed ten-year economic development strategy would allow time for new structures to bed in and facilitate long-term planning in terms of R&D, allocation of resources and industry development that is necessary to achieve sustainable economic expansion,” said Senator Cullinane.
“With the right policies, a coherent regional approach and a focus on the key strengths of the region I have no doubt that the Southeast can and will develop socially and economically and create the necessary jobs. We must foster a spirit of doing it for ourselves, support creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship and allow the region to flourish and grow.”
Among the other key priorities that the report identifies for the Southeast are:
• The establishment of a southeast regional office and a southeast regional director of the IDA based in Waterford City.
• To ensure that the Southeast has at least the same IDA Investment Aid as the BMW region as part of the Regional Aid Guidelines for 2014 – 2020.
• The establishment of a Technological University in the region and the building of competitive advantage through a strong research and development hub and support for innovation and creativity.
• A strategy to improve educational attainment and skills provision in the region.
The development of a regional Transport Hub that aligns road, rail and port infrastructure, maximises use of both ports (Rosslare and Waterford), ensures completion of the Enniscorthy and New Ross Bypass and improvements to the N24 to greatly improve the Limerick to Waterford road corridor.
• Investment in the roll-out of Dark Fibre Network (Broadband) in the region.
• Investment in the regional Airport to allow for expansion of the runway and the opening of opportunities to access new markets and supporting growth in tourism.
• Supporting tourism as a key driver of economic growth through a coordinated and integrated regional strategy and the development of a strategic tourism vision.
• The Development of the Southeast as a world leader in Food including production, processing, ingredients and technology. This should involve maximising the potential of Harvest 2020 and the abolition of the milk quota in 2015.
The Derry MLA and member of the Assembly’s Health Committee said:
“Sinn Féin had welcomed the ruling by the Court of Appeal that gives the go-ahead for unmarried couples, those in civil partnerships and same sex couples to adopt.
“It was a welcome decision for equality and against discrimination. Edwin Poots should now let the public know how much public money he has wasted by bringing this appeal.
“This current appeal to the supreme court is foolish in the extreme and wastes even more public money.
“The health minister has brought his own personal prejudices to this issue in the same way that these prejudices clouded his judgement regarding gay people donating blood.
“This not only affects people in same sex relationships but also unmarried couples and those in civil partnerships.
“The focus in any adoption has to be the child’s welfare and to deny children a good home on the basis of prejudices is wrong.”
Sinn Féin chose its candidate for the Southern region for next year’s EU elections at a convention in Cahir, Co Tipperary today.
There were two candidates in the running for the Sinn Féin nomination to the European parliament. Both were from Cork with Liadh NíRiada winning out over Chris O'Leary.
Speaking after the selection of Liadh Ní Riada, party president, Gerry Adams TD, said: “It is a big ask but a great honour to represent this party, given where we are, and given our potential for the future.”
Sinn Féin will stand four candidates for the EU election. In advance of having the new electoral boundaries for the EU constituencies, the party has positioned its candidates as follows: one in Dublin, one in the South, one in the Six Counties and one in the North West and North Leinster.
Sitting MEP, Martina Anderson will contest in the North, while Carrickmacross councillor, Matt Carthy will stand in the North West and North Leinster constituency.
The convention to select the Sinn Féin candidate to cover the Southern area, Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Laois, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wicklow and Wexford
The convention to chose a Dublin candidate has yet to take place.
Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry O'Reilly has slammed the latest in a series of attacks on a North Belfast Catholic Church.
The North Belfast Councillor said:
"Last night's fire bomb attack on St Mary's on the Shore Road was despicable and completely sectarian.
"St Mary's has been targeted repeatedly and this attack was the latest in this series of incidents.
"Paint was also thrown at the church and petrol and bottles recovered nearby.
"I'm calling for those within Unionism to stand shoulder to shoulder with St Mary's parishioners and use whatever influence they have to end the attacks.
"Local people are very upset at this latest attack. There is no justification for such attacks on any place of worship." END
Commenting on press reports that the government is to initiate talks regarding Priory Hall, involving the banks and Dublin City Council, Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor, Mícheál Mac Donncha, who represents the area, said: "We need clarity from the government about what it proposes to do about Priory Hall. If it is taking a lead on this scandal then that is welcome, albeit two years overdue.
“The government needs to inform all the former residents and to state publicly exactly what it is proposing. The first thing it must do is to knock the banks' heads together as the different mortgage lenders are treating Priory Hall evacuees differently, in many cases causing huge distress.
“A cobbled together arrangement involving a long drawn out reconstruction of Priory Hall will not, in my view, be acceptable to the former residents. The banks must make clear that they are prepared to transfer the mortgages to other properties for the former residents.
“These evacuees have suffered too long and a resolution should be under way before the second anniversary of the evacuation." END
The Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure has welcomed the decision this morning not to proceed with a case centred on the disclosure of files relating to decades-old killings.
The Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, whose Department is responsible for the Public Records Office (PRONI) said: “I am pleased for the families concerned that the uncertainty regarding the release of these files has been resolved.
"As Minister I am Keeper of the Records and have specific responsibilities in law which I intend to take forward properly and appropriately. "I want to disclose as much information as is possible to families about the circumstances of their family member’s death.
" In future I will continue to consider this issue on a case by case basis and I am committed to consulting the appropriate organisations so I can take account of any views they want to offer about disclosure.”
Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has called for job security for workers at Suttons Oil. Speaking on the issue Deputy Colreavy said:
“Suttons Oil is a state owned oil distribution company, and a subsidiary of Bord na Mona. The company is set to be sold to the private oil distribution company Corrib Oil.
“The workers at Suttons Oil must be protected by any sale of the company to a private operator. The company currently have around 30 staff operating out of the Munster area.
“These jobs must be protected and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, must take steps to ensure that this is achieved.
“Questions must also be asked regarding the sale of Suttons Oil to a private company that has been convicted of being part of a price fixing cartel. The Minister must seek assurances that the company is now operating fully above board.
“It is also regrettable that a state owned company is being sold to a private operator. This is a part of a worrying trend of the privatisation agenda and questions must be asked as to what next will be privatised.
“I will be raising the issue with the Minister on the resumption of Dáil business next week.” ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said Mícheál Martin and Fianna Fáil are being opportunistic in opposing the abolition of the Seanad.
Deputy Adams also said if Mícheál Martin is sincere in his wish for Northern representation in the Oireachtas then he should support Sinn Féin’s call for speaking rights in the Dáil for Northern MPs.
Speaking while canvassing in Dublin city centre today, Gerry Adams said:
“The Fianna Fáil leadership has performed an opportunistic u-turn on Seanad abolition. Fianna Fáil went into the last general election with a commitment to abolish the Seanad yet Micheál Martin now opposes its abolition.
“This referendum is not about reform. It simply isn’t on the table. The Seanad is elitist and undemocratic. It must be abolished.
“Deputy Martin is saying that the only way to get Northern representation in the Oireachtas is to support the retention of the Seanad yet his party never did anything to support northern representation during it 14 years in power.
“This is despite Fianna Fáil agreement that there would be opportunities for Northern MPs to participate in Dáil debates without voting rights. This commitment, like others, was reneged on.
“If Mícheál Martin wants Northern representation in the Oireachtas then he should support Sinn Féin’s call for speaking rights in the Dáil for Northern MPs.”