Bruton accuses FF of Seanad hypocrisy
Published 24/09/2013 | 05:00
FIANNA Fail was accused last night of hypocrisy over the Seanad by calling for reform while failing to turn up for votes in the upper chamber.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton's comments follow the revelations in the Irish Independent that an average of one in four senators misses votes.
A comprehensive study of votes in the Seanad over the past 12 months found shocking levels of absenteeism among senators who are paid €60,000 a year.
The one party campaigning to save the Seanad – Fianna Fail – had the worst voting record of the main parties.
Mr Bruton said Fianna Fail's poor Seanad voting record emphasised the hypocrisy of the No campaign.
He added: "The hypocrisy of the No side is exposed by these voting records. Fianna Fail is the only party to have changed its position on the Seanad since the general election.
"But despite its claims that the Seanad is worth saving, Fianna Fail senators have missed a third of all votes. How can the party expect the public to take it seriously on this issue?
"How can it now justify the fact that its own senators aren't even turning up for work in the chamber it wants to save?" he said.
Ahead of next week's Seanad abolition referendum, the finding that senators don't bother to turn up for one in four votes undermines claims about the upper house's importance as a legislative chamber.
Voting is a fundamental part of an Oireachtas member's functions.
Embarrassingly for the Seanad, some of the lowest turnouts were for votes on the Social Welfare Bill, which affects welfare rates; and the Personal Insolvency Bill, which is aimed at tackling the mortgage crisis.
But one of the highest turnouts was a vote on the future of the Seanad itself, with almost all senators voting on the bill to have a referendum on the Upper House.