independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Kenny: FF has more time for golf than Seanad

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny says Fianna Fail had so little respect for the Seanad, it once closed it down to play golf, as the referendum campaign drew to a heated close.

A last-minute war of words over the abolition of the Seanad erupted between Mr Kenny and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.

The Taoiseach used his last public comments before polls open today to claim Fianna Fail has little respect for the Seanad.

He said the attitude of Fianna Fail to the Upper House was best summed up by the golfing incident, which happened when they were in government and controlled the Seanad.

But Mr Martin hit back, telling the Irish Independent Mr Kenny's comments were "shallow and cynical".

"The Taoiseach's latest contribution, pointing to a game of golf as a reason to bring in such dangerous constitutional change, shows just how shallow and cynical his entire campaign has been," Mr Martin said.

ADJOURNED

Mr Kenny was speaking at a jobs launch in Dublin when he made the comments. He said: "I suppose you could say the attitude of the Fianna Fail party towards Seanad Eireann was epitomised a few years ago when the Senate was adjourned so the members could go and participate in the Oireachtas golf competition."

He was referring to an incident four years ago when senators were forced to deny the Upper House wasn't sitting because they were off playing golf.

The Oireachtas Golf Society did hold a classic in Portmarnock Golf Club on the same day of the adjournment in May 2009.

However, Fianna Fail's Donie Cassidy, who was then leader of the Upper House, claimed there was no link between the game of golf and the Seanad not sitting.

There was a similar incident just a year later when the Seanad closed for business at the same time as some TDs and senators went to Turkey to play golf.

Mr Cassidy again denied the Upper House was closed for the golf trip.

DANGERS

Mr Martin said the referendum result would be very close, and urged people to vote No.

"A lot of people have watched the debates of the last 48 hours very carefully and realised the dangers posed by the raft of constitutional changes the Government is proposing," he said.

"The result is going to be very close and I would appeal again for everyone who values the protections in our Constitution to come out, send the Government a strong message about the need for real reform and vote No."

But Mr Kenny said his Dail reform proposals would lead to greater involvement of ordinary citizens in drafting legislation.

"We will involve civic society and people to a far greater extent, far more comprehensively in the drafting and analysis and consideration of legislation," the Taoiseach said.

"The senate was hijacked by the political process for 70 years. It has never measured up to principles for which it was intended, to represent particular sectors of society. All of that will now happen through the committee system in the changed way the Dail will do its business."

Irish Independent

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