Tuesday 12 December 2017

Reform Dail first, then tackle Seanad

It would be tempting to dismiss both sides in the Seanad referendum with Oscar Wilde's timeless observation about fox-hunting being "the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible". Sadly, it would be inaccurate, for fox-hunting is a vigorous, passionate exercise. The Seanad referendum, in contrast, evolved into little more than a miserable contest of absences. Although some irony surrounds the manner in which Enda Kenny has been berated for keeping an election promise, the Taoiseach has brought some of his troubles on himself, for if this unloved referendum is a template for the evolution of our public discourse, then the future of politics is grim.

When it comes to this contest of absences the defining factor that should influence our decision is the mendacious government campaign that has fiddled with the facts and jemmied up the figures. Mr Bruton's ropey sums and the amoral reductionism of his fewer-politicians stance provided us with an unedifying spectacle where a politician who once bravely opposed the Ceausescu-style excesses of Social Partnership has evolved into a bleating political sheep capable only of regurgitating focus-group findings.

Concerns about a 'power grab' can only be accentuated by the stealthy exclusion of Article 27 – where, up to now, if a specified number of TDs and Senators petition the President on a bill, he can refer it to the citizens.

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