Friday 23 February 2018

Don't use Seanad vote to protest hard times – Kenny

Michael Brennan and  Ralph Riegel

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has urged people not to use the Seanad referendum to protest about "hard times" ahead of the upcoming Budget.

The Seanad referendum on October 4 takes place just 11 days before the Budget – which is due to contain up to €3.1bn in spending cuts and tax increases.

At the launch of the Fine Gael Seanad abolition campaign, Mr Kenny acknowledged that people often used referendums to send a message to government about the "hard times" they were in.

But he urged voters to support the abolition of the Seanad as he waved a copy of the Irish Constitution.

"The people also understand that the Seanad is not an imperative to hold on to because the people's book (the Constitution) points out clearly that the Dail is the body to hold the executive to account," he said.

Mr Kenny dismissed reports that one of his senior advisers had been the driving force behind the Seanad abolition proposal, saying that it was his own idea. He said the political system had failed to deal with the Seanad for 50 years even though it was a "powerless, elitist second house" – and it was now going to be put up to the Irish people. "This is not a question of an egotistical power grab, this is about the people," he said.

Mr Kenny rejected a call from Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to take part in a televised debate on the Seanad, insisting the only debate he would do was Leader's Questions in the Dail.

At his party's Seanad campaign launch, Mr Martin defended the decision to carry out a U-turn on Fianna Fail's general election promise to abolish the Seanad. "We said at the time of the election that we wanted fundamental reform of the entire political system and it was only in that context we would favour the abolition of the Seanad. Nothing has happened since then in terms of the relationship between the parliament and the executive," he said.

Irish Independent

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