Saturday 27 December 2014

Burton: ‘A pity Kenny didn’t debate Seanad’

Published 07/10/2013 | 12:37

Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD
Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD

A SENIOR government minister has said it’s “a pity” that Taoiseach Enda Kenny did not take part in the televised debates on the abolition of the Seanad.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton responded to the defeat of the government’s proposal saying that the government will now have to discuss how the upper house can be reformed, and suggesting that the matter could be referred to the constitutional convention.

She was at the launch of a remote sign language interpreting service at the Deaf Village facility in Dublin.

Ms Burton was asked if she agreed with criticism of the Taoiseach over his refusal to participate in the Seanad referendum debates and said: “I think the Taoiseach’s a very good debater so I don’t think the debate would have in fact challenged him.

“In fact I think he would have done very well.

She added: “I think it was a pity that he didn’t have that opportunity to put the case directly.

“He did that in a lot of other meetings and at a lot of other venues but certainly I think talking to people in the last few days before the vote, it certainly was mentioned significantly that people would have liked to have seen him on a debate or perhaps being interviewed at length on news programmes about why he was in favour of abolition.”

Ms Burton said that the Labour Party’s plan to refer Seanad reform to the constitutional convention may now be re-examined.

 “Obviously the Taoiseach himself had a particularly strong view and Fine Gael had in their election manifesto in favour directly of abolition,” she said.

“There were a lot of people in the Labour Party who saw abolition as being the preferential choice.

“But we wanted to actually have the options examined by the convention.

“So it will be a matter for discussion now.”

The proposal to abolish the Seanad was rejected by 51.7pc of voters in a result that the Taoiseach described as a political “walloping”.

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