Saturday 20 January 2018

Unhappy politicians say a reformed Seanad would play a valuable role

Fergus Black and Michael Brennan

FINE GAEL and Labour senators are set to disobey orders from Enda Kenny to campaign for the abolition of their own jobs.

A survey by the Irish Independent found widespread dissatisfaction with Mr Kenny's stance among government senators – even as he insisted that Fine Gael and Labour included the pledge to abolish the Seanad in their election manifestos.

The most open defiance is among 11 of the 12 Labour senators, who know that their party leadership is going to allow them to express their reservations openly. But seven of the 19 Fine Gael senators are also opposed to the Seanad abolition, even though that pits them against their own party leader.

Fine Gael senator Paul Bradford, husband of Junior Minister Lucinda Creighton, said a reformed Seanad could play a valuable role.

Fine Gael senator Tony Mulcahy said the abolition of the Seanad was not the biggest issue facing the country.

The other Fine Gael senators opposed to the abolition of the Seanad include Martin Conway, Michael Comiskey, Pat O'Neill and Michael Mullins. Fine Gael senator Colm Burke said he was in favour of abolishing it, while other Fine Gael senators did not want to comment or could not be contacted.

In Labour, 11 out of 12 senators want the Seanad retained and reformed. They include John Kelly, Jimmy Harte, James Heffernan, Denis Landy, Susan O'Keeffe, John Gilroy, Aideen Hayden and Mary Moran.

Labour senator John Whelan said it would be a vain and futile exercise to oppose the referendum legislation, but pledged to resist the Seanad's outright abolition.

The only Labour senator who has yet to make up her mind about her vote in the Seanad referendum is Galway-based Lorraine Higgins.

Almost all the Labour senators have made similar pledges to allow the referendum legislation to go through. The only exceptions are Mr Heffernan, who is going to vote against, and Mr Landy, who is not saying until the legislation comes before the Seanad.

Irish Independent

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