MOMENTUM is shifting in the Seanad abolition referendum with an increasing number of voters worried about a single chamber parliament.
Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin said the outcome of the referendum is now too close to call as he staged a special party 'think in' in Waterford before the new Dail session.
Mr Martin hosted 33 of his party's TDs and Senators for a special two-day session aimed at laying the groundwork for the Seanad campaign and next year's European and Local Government elections.
He stressed that if Irish voters want political reform, they need to vote 'No' in the October 4 ballot.
"This is a defining moment for the political future of our country,” he said.
He warned that if people vote to abolish the Seanad, any prospect of political reform will vanish forever.
“We believe that the Seanad can and must be reformed. Any person who believes in reforming Irish politics needs to vote ‘No’ next month,” he said.
The FF leader said recent polls indicated that voices warning about the consequences of Seanad abolition were finally being listened to.
"I believe that people are beginning to listen to the warning voices. I believe the momentum is shifting and that the concerns about an over-centralisation of political power are being listened to."
He added that he found it "astonishing" that there should be a proposal to abolish the Seanad at the very time that town councils are being abolished.
"The bottom line is that local democracy is being diluted. That is why we are campaigning for the reform of the Seanad rather than its knee-jerk abolition."
Mr Martin said that FF's rebuilding programme continues apace.
“My mission and objective is to rebuild this political party…we do have a long way to go. Our polls have been consistent and we are where we expected to be. Fundamentally, the next big milestone for us is the Local Government and EU Parliament elections next year,” he said.
“The long term renewal will be based on the hard substance of policy and the quality of our opposition to this deeply unpopular Government. It will be the people alone who judge our policy platform. They will decide our future.”
“We have to learn hard lessons from our time in Government. It means new policies, new people and a renewed commitment to improving people’s lives.”
“When Fianna Fáil is at its strongest, when it is best at serving the people, is when it is true to the very distinct programme on which it was founded.”