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Friday 22 August 2014

FG's Seanad 'axeman' defends his time there

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 27/09/2013 | 05:00

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Richard Bruton is an ex-senator

FINE Gael Seanad abolition campaign director Richard Bruton has defended his use of the upper house to help win his first Dail seat.

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Mr Bruton served as a senator on the agricultural panel in 1981 before being elected to the Dail the following year.

He said he stood over his view that the Seanad should not be a creche for young politicians and a retirement home for ageing ones.

"At the time I ran for what was provided for in the Constitution and was validly underpinned by legislation," he said.

"We are now seeking to change the Constitution, so we will not be asking taxpayers to provide funding for a house which is ineffective."

He and Finance Minister Michael Noonan were launching Fine Gael's latest Seanad "attack ad" asking voters how many people elect the country's Seanad. The answer is 1.1pc of the population.

Mr Noonan hit out at the No campaign, saying it was ironic that the main campaigners were Fianna Fail, the Greens and the former Progressive Democrats who had "wrecked the economy".

He added that the election of six university senators by certain graduates was elitist.

Bombard

Sinn Fein senator David Cullinane criticised the Seanad for acting as a "rubber stamp" for all of the policies that led to the economic crisis.

And former Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna complained that parties on the Yes side were using taxpayer funding to bombard voters with arguments about abolishing the Seanad.

Two Fine Gael senators attacked the party's claim that abolishing the Seanad would save €20m. Although this is the cost of running the Seanad each year, the Referendum Commission said the immediate savings would be €8m.

Tony Mulcahy said the €20m claim was a lie, while Martin Conway said politics was suffering enough without having posters with incorrect figures.

Irish Independent

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