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Legislation on Seanad abolition ‘premature’ – Cullinane

5 June, 2013 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin Seanad Leader David Cullinane has stated that the publication of a constitutional amendment bill to abolish the Seanad is premature.

Speaking today the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Political Reform reiterated his party’s view that the matter needs to be referred to the Constitutional Convention.

He said;

“Sinn Féin believes that the Seanad as currently constituted is deeply undemocratic and elitist. We do not believe that it can continue to function in its current form.

“However, the government has taken an ill-considered and rash approach to the question of the future of the Seanad. In recent weeks we have heard various ideas floated, before being dropped, including a high powered committee to scrutinise legislation, consisting entirely of appointees. This illustrates the desire of the government to do away with as many checks and balances as possible.

“Today the government has published legislation which will allow for a constitutional amendment to be put to the people to decide whether to abolish the Seanad or not.

“Simple abolition, without even allowing the opportunity to discuss considering reform is foolhardy.

“We have continually argued that the question of the future of the Seanad needs to be referred to the Constitutional Convention.”

“This is the appropriate place to consider whether we need a second chamber, what is the purpose of a second chamber, and what role, if any, a second chamber could usefully fulfil.

“It is a representative body, which is largely made up of ordinary citizens, which would allow for a wide ranging discussion. If the Constitutional Convention were to discuss such matters, and conclude that the question should be put to the people in any case, then so be it.

“However, in the absence of such a discussion, I believe the publication of such legislation is premature.

“Recently the government allowed the Seanad Reform Bill 2013 to pass second stage. If they were to be consistent in their approach, they would defer the discussion of this legislation, and they would refer this matter to the Constitutional Convention.”


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