Sunday 20 August 2017

Ministers considering new plan to scrap the Seanad

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

THE Government is considering a referendum to scrap the Seanad on the same day as the General Election.

Cabinet ministers discussed the proposal at their meeting before the Budget yesterday morning.

However, no decision was taken and the plan is understood to be still on the table.

Putting forward the referendum would steal a march on Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who is promising to hold such a vote in the first year of a new government's term in office.

But Fine Gael's plan would mean a new group of 60 senators being elected and appointed after the Dail election and serving for the lifetime of the next Oireachtas.

This means that the Seanad would most likely not be abolished for another five years.

If the current Government ran the referendum at the same time as the forthcoming General Election, it would most likely be possible to abolish the Seanad before new elections were held.

The proposal will cause consternation among members of the Seanad and a number of Fianna Fail senators were nervously enquiring about the accuracy of rumours circulating around Leinster House yesterday.

The possible reform of the Dail is also being examined but this could not be implemented before the next General Election, meaning the country will vote under the existing 166-TD system.

Government sources confirmed ministers did discuss the Seanad abolition yesterday.

"There was talk about it. It was kicked around today and no decision was made," a source said.

The Green Party is said to be keen on bringing forward political reform.

"We are in a changed environment. You could hold it (the referendum) on the day of the General Election. Dail reform is also being looked at," a party source said.

Irish Independent

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