Friday 19 January 2018

FG ramps up Seanad abolition campaign

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FINE Gael is cranking up its Seanad abolition campaign, targeting younger voters with an internet strategy focusing on cost savings and having "fewer politicians".

The party is also going to use any opportunity it gets to remind the public of the role of No campaigners who served in past governments during the economic crisis.

Fine Gael is pushing the rather blunt message: "Save €20m – Fewer Politicians – Abolish the Seanad – Vote Yes."

But Fianna Fail wants another referendum to be held to allow greater reforms to the election of members of the Seanad.

Fine Gael is unleashing an internet campaign today and again highlighting the savings from the abolition of the Seanad.

PROPOSALS

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, the Fine Gael director of elections, is sticking to his claim that scrapping the Seanad will save €20m, an estimate that comes, he stresses, from the body in charge of Leinster House, the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

The €20m figure is broken into direct costs of €8.8m:

* €4.2m in senators' salaries.

* €2.5m in senators' expenses.

* €2.1m in senators' staff costs.

And then there are indirect costs of €9.3m:

* €1.9m on information technology, including spending on desktop and laptop computers, hard drives, iPads, phone calls, printers, ink cartridges and broadcasting Seanad debates.

* €1.6m on ushers, security and cleaners.

* €2.8m on services including administration for the chairman of the Seanad and committees.

* €3m on printing, translation services, procurement, stationery and work for inter-parliamentary bodies.

Plus there is another €2m worth of pension costs for the Seanad each year.

Fine Gael is also highlighting the fact that just 1pc of the population have a say in voting to elect the current Seanad.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin will outline some of his own proposals for Seanad reform tonight.

The party wants the voters to defeat the current referendum – and then come back and vote for another referendum in the future. Mr Martin's proposals involve direct elections to the Seanad.

Irish Independent

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