Sinn Féin Seanad team ready to deliver – Conway-Walsh
Sinn Féin Seanad Leader, Rose Conway-Walsh, has outlined the aims of Sinn Féin’s Seanad team which will be sitting for the first time today. Sinn Féin have tabled a motion to establish a Seanad committee on far-reaching political reform which will see the institution function in the most democratic manner, relevant to citizens.
Senator Conway-Walsh said:
“While we are proud to be sitting in the Seanad for the first time today, we are aware that the Seanad needs to be reformed. It is an elitist and undemocratic institution. Previous recommendations to reform the Seanad have not been put in place.
“Following the rejection of the Government’s referendum proposal to abolish the Seanad, all parties advocated a Seanad that best represents the needs of Irish people. This has not come to be and it is clear that the Seanad cannot be retained in its current form.
“The manner in which the election of Cathaoirleach was engineered in a back room deal is indicative of old practices continuing to dominate and stifle the work of the Seanad.
“Shockingly, reports proposing Seanad reform were produced
on twelve separate occasions, yet none were implemented. More decisive
action is needed to actually implement change. Sinn Féin has put down a motion
seeking to establish a committee on the political reform of the Seanad.
“If the motion is agreed, this committee would be time-limited and recommendations will be brought onto the floor of the Seanad for a vote in a number of weeks; political reform of the Seanad should be top of the agenda.
“While we broadly welcome the bill published by Michael McDowell and other Independent Senators, it does not go far enough. Crucially, there is no provision for direct election by way of universal franchise of all Irish citizens. We believe that the 46 newly elected Senators deserve an input to the process. We also believe that there needs to be provision for speaking rights for MLAs and northern MPs.
“We are inviting all parties and Independent Senators to support our motion by adding their name and support to it and demonstrate their commitment to real and comprehensive reform. We have also asked that the Seanad sits tomorrow to discuss this as well as crucial issues such as mental health and housing.”