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Current form of Seanad system ‘fundamentally undemocratic’ – O’Brien

16 October, 2014 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD


Presenting a motion on Seanad reform in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien criticised the government for failing to adhere to its own commitments after the Reform referendum to transform the Seanad into a chamber fit for purpose and representative of the people of Ireland.

Deputy O’Brien said:

“Everyone involved in the referendum campaign was very clear that the Seanad is an elitist and undemocratic institution. This is unacceptable.”

“There was, and still is, broad public recognition of the democratic deficit within the Seanad and the Dáil. Reform is long overdue. It was very easy for Fine Gael to decide to abolish the Seanad because had they succeeded, it would have had the handy effect of them being able to say that they did something, regardless of whether it would have the effect of ensuring that there was more democracy within our governing institution. It would have been very convenient and they wouldn’t have had to give much thought to just how large that democratic deficit is, and what it would take to fix it.”

“They do not believe that people should have control of their own lives with democracy being as devolved as possible. They are in favour of chipping away at democracy and concentrating power in the hands of the establishment. There is no recall mechanism by which people can formally state to the government that they no longer have a mandate. Between that type of carry on and being told to vote on referenda repeatedly until you give the right answer, is it any wonder people are disillusioned with politics in Ireland?” 

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