Tuesday 12 December 2017

State faces 'legislative gridlock' if Taoiseach abolishes Seanad

JOHN DRENNAN Political Editor

IRELAND faces a prolonged period of American-style legislative gridlock should Enda Kenny be successful in his attempt to abolish the Seanad in the autumn.

The Sunday Independent has learnt that if the referendum succeeds, a number of government senators are planning to make "the house ungovernable to such an extent we'll force a general election".

One source said that "we are planning to return the kind favour Enda has done to us by making life as difficult as possible for the Taoiseach for the remainder of the Oireachtas term".

The current Seanad line-up means the Government has a wafer thin majority of 30 Fine Gael and Labour senators. However, even prior to the referendum, the Coalition is – when it comes to a number of senators such as Fidelma Healy Eames, Paul Bradford, Michael Mullins and Tom Sheahan, who are tipped to defect over abortion – struggling to retain its majority.

As anger grows within the Seanad over the cavalier attitude of Mr Kenny to its abolition, sources within Fine Gael said: "Senators are meeting to decide how they will behave in the wake of any defeat."

The powers of the Seanad when it comes to legislation are strictly circumscribed. Senators cannot, for example, defeat a budget but they can delay any legislation for 90 days and force the Dail to consider it again. One source said, "if we do that with a number of bills, you'll soon see the Government's legislative proposals come to a halt".

Commenting on the move, the FF leader of the Seanad Darragh O'Brien said: "FF will even in the event of abolition continue with our programme of constructive opposition. We will support good policies but if we oppose government proposals, aid from our government colleagues will be gratefully received."

Irish Independent

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