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Let's get rid of useless Seanad

Sir -- I dearly look forward to the demise of the Senate, regardless of whether the present government or the next one affords the electorate an opportunity to vote on this issue.

The pathetic whining response from some of the senators themselves to the proposal to end their handy little number merely confirms my view of the so-called Upper House.

It shows how divorced from the public mood its honourable members are, when Senator John Paul Phelan issues a statement telling us we'd all be far more impressed with the Senate if its deliberations received greater media coverage, and Senator Joe O'Toole opposes any move to disband his beloved "chamber" on the basis that "those who will lose are ordinary people on the ground".

Do these exceptionally well-paid politicians take us for idiots? The "ordinary people" Senator O'Toole purports to represent are largely barred from voting in Senate elections, that right being the preserve of a privileged few. The Senate turns democracy on its head. It serves no useful function apart from providing a dry run for aspiring Dail candidates and a consolation prize for failed politicians or loyal party hacks.

Senator Phelan should be grateful that Senate proceedings have not been covered too extensively by the media. I have viewed some debates this year on the Oireachtas website and was astonished at the low level of parliamentary exchange.

John Fitzgerald,

Callan, Co Kilkenny

Abolition would be short-sighted

Sir -- The current clamour for the abolition of the Seanad resembles that which accompanied the public executions which were phased out here during the 19th century.

The crowd shouts and roars. Everybody feels good. Twenty minutes later, a few wonder if anything at all was actually achieved -- other than a momentary adrenalin buzz.

By treating the abolition of the Seanad simply as a revenge-release, do we run the danger of killing off something which has a significant role to play in the national revival which should and could lie ahead?

Does it appear to be useless only because it has never properly been used?

Maurice O'Connell

Tralee, Co Kerry

Sunday Independent