Monday 14 October 2019

FG senators to defy Kenny over Seanad abolition

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FINE Gael senators are set to defy Taoiseach Enda Kenny and support new proposals drafted by former Tanaiste Michael McDowell to save and reform the Seanad rather than back the Government's plans to scrap it.

The Irish Independent has learned a group of Fine Gael senators are ready to support the new measures drafted by Mr McDowell and others when they come before the Upper House in the coming weeks.

The referendum to abolish the Seanad will take place in October, and Mr McDowell is part of a group campaigning to save it.

Using the slogan, "Open it, don't close it", the group proposes to give everyone a vote in Seanad elections, rather than the current system where senators are chosen by councillors, TDs and some college graduates, although the 11 chosen by the Taoiseach will remain.

A Fine Gael source said the "Government wants a yes or no" on abolition but the senators wanted to put forward an alternative.

The Government does not have to take on the bill, even if it is passed in the Seanad.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is understood to be allowing his TDs and senators have a free choice on the issue.

Fianna Fail is calling for a No in the referendum but it is unclear if it will support Mr McDowell's reform bill.

Irish Independent

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