Kenny talks at tense meeting over Seanad
GARDAI patrolled the back of a public meeting on the forthcoming referendum last night, in case protesters had infiltrated the crowd.
Arriving at the Fitzpatrick Hotel in Killiney, Co Dublin, Taoiseach Enda Kenny swept past a small core of about 20 members of the Dun Laoghaire People before Profit organisation who had congregated outside the hotel gates.
Inside, speaking on the referendum, he commented that his motives had been described as "sinister" and a "power grab".
However he asked: "What is more democratic than asking the people of Ireland for their adjudication on a question by secret ballot?"
Meanwhile, Richard Bruton described the Seanad as "a rigged body" elected by just 1pc of the electorate.
The meeting was heated at times. The first speaker of the night asked how the Taoiseach could be believed when he had failed to respect the views of Irish people in relation to the abortion issue.
The question was barred by chairperson of the debate, businesswoman Norah Casey, but Mr Kenny promptly answered, saying the law had "not been changed but clarified".
Mr Kenny defended the touted saving of €20m which would be made by abolishing the Seanad, saying it was the cost of the Seanad as estimated by the Oireachtas Commission.
Meanwhile, the Reform Alliance group of Fine Gael rebels will table a motion committing the Oireachtas to reform the Seanad if the referendum is defeated.
However, the motion is unlikely to be heard because Dail rules say only political parties or the Technical Group can have private members motions debated.
But the Reform Alliance is likely to try to raise the issue during daily Dail business.