Labour policies called for abolition
Madam – I write in response to Senator John Whelan (Sunday Independent, Sept 15, 2013). I can accept that he will vote No in the referendum on the abolition of the Seanad, I would hardly expect turkeys to vote for Christmas, but his decision to campaign for a No vote is a different matter. When asked on Morning Ireland if he was not acting against his party he answered no, Labour's original intention was to refer the question to the Constitutional Convention. Whether this is so, or not, he and other Labour Oireachtas candidates went before the electorate under the banner of Labour's election manifesto which states:
Page 5: "Labour will abolish the Seanad"; Page 45: "Labour will abolish the Seanad but make the Dail stronger"; Page 46: "We will be proposing to the Constitutional Convention that the Seanad be abolished."
I do not intend to get involved in an argument about exactly how much would be saved by abolishing the Seanad on the basis that we will probably never know the exact figure but it seems obscene to propose that we continue to pay approximately double the average industrial wage plus expenses to a bunch of part-timers, at a time when the deputy leader of the labour party, Joan Burton, may have to cut child benefit and has just said that if her department were to save the amount being demanded of her it would inevitably impact on efforts to get unemployed people back to work. Incidentally, on the question of senators' expenses, it is interesting to note that according to the latest figures available for 2012, three quarters of senators opted for unvouched expenses even though they are subject to lower limits than vouched expenses. I wonder why?