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Proposals for Seanad reform do not go far enough - Doherty

11 March, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said that proposals for Seanad reform from both Government and other opposition parties do not go far enough. He has described the Seanad as elitist, undemocratic, outdated and, in the minds of many, irrelevant.

Senator Doherty said, "The Government needs to take the bull by the horns and reform the Seanad. Tweeking at the edges will not suffice. The reality is that the Seanad is elitist, undemocratic, outdated and, in the minds of many, irrelevant.

"Many Senators last year were outraged at the idea that the Seanad chamber would be relocated to the National museum during planned refurbishments of the existing chamber. It is my view that that is exactly were the current model of the Seanad should be located permanently. It is outdated and despite a dozen reports on Seanad reform since 1937 and a constitutional referendum thirty years ago this year no Government has the political will to reform the Seanad to a second chamber of parliament that can provide a meaningful role in parliamentary affairs in the 21st Century.

"Sinn Féin has argued for a Seanad that is directly elected by the people of Ireland and of its citizens abroad, a Seanad that would represent a wide range of diverse views and a Seanad that will increase the role of community consultation as legislation is being drafted.

"Tonight's debate offers little in real reform and while it may address some of the issues the proposals do not go far enough. Senators need to take a hard long look at themselves and not protect a chamber that does not reach its full potential in today's Ireland. Its time for bold action and real leadership from this Government if they want to do more than once again pay lip service to real Seanad reform." ENDS

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