Tuesday 6 December 2016

Senators should do decent thing

Published 04/01/2011 | 05:00

SENATOR Joe O'Toole put forward an eloquent argument yesterday against the abolition of the Seanad and in favour of the only viable alternative: reform which would give it a credible and respected place in the parliamentary system.

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His argument was all the more appealing because he did not seek to obscure its fundamental weakness. The institution in its present form does little more than turn democracy into a farce. But the odds against the reformers are overwhelming.

In the first place, it is difficult to make the case for a second chamber, democratically elected or otherwise. In Ireland, it is all but impossible. The system of election is grotesque and dominated by the political parties. With few exceptions, it fails to give a voice to eminent and independent-minded citizens. For every Joe O'Toole, there are a dozen hacks.

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