News Politics

Sunday 21 September 2014

McDowell must make his mind up on new party, says former PD colleague

Fionnan Sheahan and Ralph Riegel

Published 20/08/2013 | 05:00

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Liz O’Donnell says Michael McDowell supported the Seanad’s abolition while in the PDs

FORMER junior minister Liz O'Donnell says her former Progressive Democrat colleague Michael McDowell needs to make up his mind on starting a new political party.

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Writing in today's Irish Independent, Ms O'Donnell also questions the former justice minister's outspoken campaign to save the Seanad.

Mr McDowell is campaigning with a group opposed to the abolition of the Seanad, despite previously calling for it to be scrapped. The former Tanaiste has warned that the abolition of the Seanad would lead to a concentration of power.

Ms O'Donnell, who served in the PDs with Mr McDowell, says people are "baffled by his newfound devotion to the Upper House", given his previous support for its abolition as a PD party position.

She also says Mr McDowell should make up his mind on whether he wants to start a new political party.

"If Michael is minded to launch a new party, and there is certainly an opening for something fresh to add to the limited choice facing the voters at the next election, I wish he would just 'hit the ball'," she writes.

"The challenge for any potential collaborators, however, is that he will want to be the boss of them, whether in name or substance. He is a leader, not a follower; nothing wrong with that. At a time when the country lacks direction, ambition and ideas, strong leaders are as rare as a unicorn and sorely needed," she adds.

Voters on October 4 will only be asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' to the Seanad's retention.

A group opposed to the abolition of the Seanad claims there is now a major shift in public opinion against "a knee-jerk" eradication of the Upper House. Democracy Matters has demanded that the Government publish all reports on the Seanad's operations and costs so voters can make an informed referendum choice.

The group also warned that the failure to include a critical third 'reform option' on the ballot represents a major strategic mistake.

Democracy Matters staged a public meeting in Cork last night to galvanise opposition to the abolition of the Seanad.

Irish Independent

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