independent

Monday 21 April 2014

‘We may go back to people with second Seanad referendum’ – Labour

Minister Brendan Howlin at the Labour parliamentary party away day in Johnstown House Hotel, Enfield, Co Meath.
Pic:Mark Condren
16.9.2013
Minister Brendan Howlin Pic:Mark Condren

THE Labour party have said they are prepared to go back to the people for a referendum on Seanad reforms.

Speaking on RTE’s News At One, Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said the party are prepared to work “speedily” on the matter of Seanad reforms.

But another referendum may be required for more radical measures, he said.

“There are some things we can do within the current confines of the constitution,” the minister said.

“I think we should move fairly speedily on those and listen to people.

“One thing that is clear is that there are lots of ideas for reform.

“Whether we can build a consensus of exactly how that reform should be implemented I think is the immediate challenge.

“Ultimately we may need to ask the people by way of another referendum for specific changes to bring about radical reform than the current constitution provides for,” he said.

Labour and its government coalition partner Fine Gael both campaigned for the abolition of the Seanad.

Now that they have lost the referendum, Mr Howlin said they have to focus on making the Seanad more effective.

“The people have spoken – they want two houses and now it falls to us to make the Seanad even more effective than it has been to date.”

During the campaign, Fine Gael’s Director of Elections Richard Bruton claimed that it cost the taxpayer €20m per year to run the Seanad, which they claimed was a waste of resources.

“The people own the money, the people own the institutions,” Mr Howlin said today.

“The people determined yesterday that the Seanad should stay and it’s our job now to take the people’s instruction and implement it."

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