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Seanad in its current form must be abolished - Doherty

18 October, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has accused Fine Gael of making up their policy on Seanad reform as they go along. Senator Doherty described the Seanad as elitist and undemocratic and said it should be abolished in its current form. However Senator Doherty said Fine Gael has had three different positions on Seanad reform this year with Enda Kenny only just launching an Oireachtas reform policy in March this year in which the party called for the retention of sixty member Seanad.

Speaking today Senator Doherty said:

"In 2004 Fine Gael supported a larger Seanad of sixty-five members with more nominees from the Taoiseach. Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffee, in March this year, described as 'media mandarins' those commentators who were calling for the abolition of the Seanad at that time. That was the same month in which Enda Kenny launched a Fine Gael policy on Oireachtas reform in which his party called for the retention of a sixty member Seanad. And now just seven months later he has announced that his party will abolish the Seanad if elected to Government in the next general election. Clearly Fine Gael are making up their policy as they go along in a populist and electorally minded manner.

"Sinn Féin has been clear on this issue. The Seanad, in its current form, is elitist and undemocratic and should be abolished. We welcome Fine Gael's commitment to abolish the Seanad as it is currently constituted even though we recognise that the move by Enda Kenny is a populist one and probably not genuine.

"There is, we believe, a place for a truly democratic second chamber in Irish politics but it must be directly elected by the people of Ireland and of its citizens abroad representing a wide range of diverse views and increasing the role of community consultation as legislation is being drafted. The Seanad, as it is currently constituted, does not perform this role and should be abolished at the earliest opportunity." ENDS

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