Thursday 22 February 2018

Scrapping chamber would also reform Dail

Fiach Kelly and Michael Brennan

THE GOVERNMENT'S proposal to abolish the Seanad – if passed in the referendum – will also lead to reforms in how the Dail functions.

Taoiseach Mr Kenny said he hoped the referendum would be held in early October, and announced Dail reforms which would go hand in hand with Seanad abolition.

But he would not say if he will reform the Dail if the people vote to retain the Seanad. If the referendum is passed, the Seanad will be abolished after the next general election.

It will also mean numerous changes to the Constitution, such as removal of the President requiring four-fifths of the Dail, a change from the current situation of a two- thirds majority of both Dail and Seanad.

The number of members of the Oireachtas required to nominate a presidential candidate will be reduced from 20 to 14.

MAJORITY

A two-thirds Dail majority will be required to remove a High or Supreme Court judge and the Comptroller and Auditor General, up from the current simple majority in both houses.

Dail committees will also be beefed up, but not along the same lines Fine Gael wanted. Fine Gael Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin said the Seanad allowed "breathing space" for legislation to be examined in detail. And she questioned whether people would support the abolition of the Seanad to give all power to the Dail.

"Dail committees and the Dail are the same people. You can't get away from it," she said.

Senator Feargal Quinn, a member of the 'Democracy Now' group campaigning to save the Seanad, said the Government had put forward "deeply cynical and short-sighted proposals dressed up as reform".

Irish Independent

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