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Kenny urged to reveal 'secret report' behind Seanad U-turn

CAMPAIGNERS against the Seanad abolition are challenging Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make public a secret document that convinced him to scrap the Upper House.

The move comes as the gap narrows substantially in the Seanad referendum in a new opinion poll.

Mr Kenny based his decision to call for the Seanad to be abolished and pledge to hold a referendum on a report compiled by Fine Gael.

At the time of his call in October 2009, Mr Kenny was Fine Gael leader and had previously sought an enhanced role for the Seanad.

His U-turn followed a report written by Environment Minister Phil Hogan, then the party's environment spokesman.

Mr Kenny has staked a great deal of his credibility on the campaign to abolish the Seanad.

Democracy Matters, a campaign group against abolition, want the public to see this report, which has never been published, if it is so persuasive.

The group's chairman, DCU's Professor Gary Murphy, is writing to Mr Kenny today asking him for the report.

"We are taking him at his word that there is such a report. It had such a big impact on the Taoiseach that we believe the public should see it to make up their minds," he said.

The poll in the 'Sunday Independent' by Millward Brown shows the number of voters in favour of abolition has dropped to 37pc – down six points since the last poll in June.

Some 33pc want reform of the Seanad, an increase of three points. Only 7pc favour retaining the Seanad in its current form and 23pc have no opinion.

STUNT

Democracy Matters said its first objective in the campaign was to shift the choice in the public mind from simply for or against the Seanad to seeking to have the Seanad reformed.

"We are making ground in this campaign because we are winning the argument; the public see that this is not real political reform, that it's a stunt, that the Government is using it as a distraction, that their arguments on cost and otherwise are spurious, and that abolishing the Seanad will not resolve the defects in our system," a spokesman said.

On the plus side for Mr Kenny, the poll shows support for Fine Gael up three points to 29pc. The result indicates support for the party hasn't been damaged by the controversy and defections over the abortion legislation.

However, the prognosis for Fine Gael's coalition partners is less positive. Support for the Labour Party remains unchanged at a paltry 8pc.

Fianna Fail is down one point to 28pc, with Sinn Fein on 19pc and Independents on 16pc.

Irish Independent