Saturday 20 December 2014

Michael McDowell warns Seanad abolition will lead to 'all-powerful Government'

Democracy Matters

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 24/07/2013 | 12:32

Michael McDowell said abolishing the Seanad could lead to a mutilation of the Constitution
Michael McDowell said abolishing the Seanad could lead to a mutilation of the Constitution

Former Justice Minister Michael McDowell has warned that abolishing the Seanad will allow an all-powerful Government to “ruthlessly hunt down” any dissenters left in the Dail.

He is a member of the “Democracy Matters” group opposing the Government’s Seanad abolition referendum, which is expected to be held on October 4.

Mr McDowell said the real purpose of the referendum was to concentrate all future political power in the Government.

He said it would then bully TDs in the Dail using the all-powerful whip system and get them to vote though its edicts “as a rubberstamp assembly”.

“Conscientious dissent in our parliament will be ruthlessly hunted down and punished in a single chamber parliament, as recent events have shown,” he said.

It comes after Taoiseach Enda Kenny has dismissed five Fine Gael TDs and two Fine Gael senators from the Fine Gael parliamentary party after they voted against the abortion bill. And several of them have also been removed from Oireachtas committees by the Government.

However, Junior Minister for Finance Brian Hayes has insisted that claims the Government is engaged in a “power grab” are nonsense.

“The Taoiseach is holding good on a commitment he made, which was subsequently included in the programme of Government.  This is a difficult decision for any Taoiseach to make because he must effectively tell 20pc of his parliamentary party that he proposes to radically reduce the number of politicians in Leinster House,” he told the Seanad earlier this week.

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