Tuesday 20 March 2018

Taoiseach warns Labour TDs to row in behind Seanad abolition

Lise Hand in Vilnius

THE Taoiseach sent out a strong warning to the Labour Party today that all government TDs are expected to support the referendum for the abolition of the Seanad.

"This is a government programme and the two parties involved, the Fine Gael party and the Labour Party have a very clear government decision here, and I expect that all members of the government parties will support the passing of the legislation in the referendum [campaign] when it commences," he said.

Mr Kenny's statement puts his party on a direct collision course with some members of Labour, including the party's chief whip Emmet Stagg who yesterday confirmed that he would be voting against the scrapping of the upper house of the Oireachtas on October 10th.

He stressed that both he and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore were fully backing the referendum. "As I said yesterday and as the Tanaiste said yesterday it's a government position, it's a government decision and it's a government programme and we want to see that it's followed through".

Mr Gilmore yesterday said the position was “quite clear” that his TDs and senators would have to support abolition of the Seanad.

However, several labour deputies have openly declared their opposition, including the chief whip who is tasked with maintaining party discipline on voting. Emmet Stagg confirmed yesterday he will be voting against the abolition.

"As Labour whip, I will facilitate the referendum to be put to the people. The way someone votes is a matter for themselves."

Speaking while on a visit to Vilnius in Lithuania as part of the EU Presidency, the Taoiseach sent out a stark warning for the Labour Party to get its house in order.

"I want to see the Seanad ended, I want to see a very strong canvass and campaign".

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