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Adams unveils political reform plan

Sinn Fein has set out a 15-point plan to reform the political system claiming it has failed the people and is unaccountable.

Gerry Adams accused former governments of protecting their own interests as he unveiled a raft of proposals which the party said will empower and uphold the rights of citizens.

"(It) protects those who have abused public office," he said.

"While the crisis in the economy is the most pressing issue at this time, fundamental political reform and the creation of a 21st century fit-for-purpose political system is absolutely essential.

"Sinn Fein wants to restore the trust of citizens in political institutions and the electoral system."

Sinn Fein has been ranked 26 out of 100 for ideas on political reform, although academics behind the assessment said it had yet to publish all its plans.

On elections, the party wants the voting age cut to 16, automatic registration, weekend elections and voting rights extended to Irish citizens living and working abroad, and to people in the north for presidential elections.

It said a third of TDs should be elected from a list system and the remainder from seven-seat constituencies, while the overall number of TDs should be reduced.

Sinn Fein wants the Seanad abolished in its current form and a directly elected upper house created.

"Those, including Fianna Fail, who now talk about political reform failed to introduce any meaningful reforms during their time in government," the Louth candidate said.

"Those in power have always protected their own interests.

"The citizens of this state deserve political reform - that is what Sinn Fein is committed to delivering."

Sinn Fein has been very vocal on popular cuts to politicians' pay, including slashing ministerial salaries by 40pc and TDs' by 20pc and an end to unvouched expenses.

Its political reform document also called for ground rents to be abolished, claiming fees are still paid on Government Buildings and Arbour Hill.

It wants Dail sitting days increased, more investigative powers for committees and new impeachment laws to remove a TD involved in corruption or deliberate misuse of public money.

Sinn Fein plans an all-Ireland forum to discuss proposals to amend the Constitution to form the basis for a future 32-county Republic.

Mr Adams said: "This would draw upon the equality provisions in the Good Friday Agreement to safeguard citizens' rights and be soundly based on democratic principles and international human rights standards.

"This would be put to the people in referendum."

PA Media