Tuesday 6 December 2016

Seanad can hold balance of power in a minority Government, claims Norris

Published 08/04/2016 | 02:30

David Norris. Photo: Douglas O'Connor
David Norris. Photo: Douglas O'Connor

Senator David Norris claimed university senators can "hold the balance of power in a minority Government" after Fianna Fáil rejected a power-sharing agreement with Fine Gael.

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Mr Norris, who is running for election to the Seanad on the Trinity panel, believes the parliamentary chamber can flex its muscle as deadlock continues to form a Government.

He said: "A lot can be done to bring the Senate into the 21st century. A lot of other institutions have reform proposed. What about the Senate? Can't that be independent? Can't that be professional?"

The veteran politician also claimed he "saved" the Seanad from abolition during the referendum on getting rid of the house in the 2013 vote.

"We were losing with two and half weeks from the vote," he said at a Seanad candidates forum in Trinity last night.

"I discharged myself from hospital and myself and Sean Barrett came out and saved the Seanad with a fiery speech."

Mr Norris was joined by Independent Senator Averil Power who hit out at the Seanad voting system after 10,000 ballot papers failed to be delivered to voters.

Trinity College confirmed to Ms Power almost "one in six" ballot papers had been returned to the college.

Ms Power said many voters had contacted her after not receiving voting papers. She said this happened because voters used old addresses or were not home to sign for the registered letters.

The Independent candidate, who is on the college's panel, criticised the "archaic" postal voting system of the Seanad.

"It costs a lot of money to send ballot papers all over Ireland and the world by registered post. And not to forget having to send them out again," she said.

"In this day and age the number of people who are home to sign for registered post is so small. So it doesn't make much sense."

Irish Independent

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