Sunday 26 January 2020

Reflections on the referendum results

* Now that the votes have been counted and the dust has settled on the referendum, it's time to take stock of the situation.

The country has decided to keep the Seanad, whose only function is to act as some sort of House of Honours for deserving people who win a limited popularity contest among politicians and certain academics.

Senators' main legislative power is to delay bills for 90 days but not vote them down. So meaningful reform means Dail Eireann sharing some of its power with them.

Well, good luck with that. Turkeys don't usually vote for Christmas. And just look at what's happening in the US, where there are two equally powerful legislative chambers.

This country voted for a Court of Appeal. This means another tier of courts, which in turn means more expense for the country at a time when it's broke.

The new Court of Appeal will serve as the Supreme Court's strainer, as it will take on most of the Supreme Court's work, if the referendum booklet is to believed.

The Supreme Court will deign to hear appeals from the High Court and the new Court of Appeal as it sees fit. Anybody see any additional efficiency or time saving in all that? Good luck if you can. I can't.

Let's hope that in about five years' time the Supreme Court has cleared its backlog and that the justice system is working faster and more efficiently.

If it's not, then Friday, October 4, 2013 will be regarded as just one of the many false dawns visited by our politicians on the Irish people.

Liam Cooke

Greencastle Avenue, Coolock, Dublin 17


* The Taoiseach now thinks he is about to reform the 'unreformable' Seanad and personally command the credit for accomplishing an unachievable act. Rubbish!

Seanad reform is a very viable and positive proposition, provided it is a forerunner to a radical Dail refurbishment, all of which would need to be ready to be fully implemented by the next General Election.

Had the referendum asked enough of the right questions on possible constitutional issues, it would have saved a lot in time and further expense to taxpayers in the future.

Here is a layman's unbiased proto-type for Seanad reform.

The legal refinery and political professionalism can be added to make it a finished product. Into the bargain, it will save over €2m annually.

Membership of the Seanad must initially be reduced from 60 to 50. This will be comprised of competent professionals and business people directly elected by the general public from a panel in each constituency on the same day as the General Election.

At least one senator must be appointed to each county. One week's salary will be deducted for every day missed from the chamber without a justifiable explanation.

Apart from its general responsibility, the new Seanad will keep a discreet eye on Dail activities and part of its portfolio of responsibilities will be job creation.

James Gleeson

Thurles, Co Tipperary

* Listening to Shane Ross being interviewed by Miriam O'Callaghan on Wednesday morning on radio about his choices in music, I cheered up when his last choice was referred to as being from the musical 'Oliver'.

With thoughts of Seanad reform foremost on my mind, I was certain the piece would be 'I'd Do Anything For You' from that lively musical.

Imagine my disappointment when, instead, the strains of 'You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two' came over airwaves.

No change in Seanad thinking any time soon, I fear.

Anne Kilrane

Edenderry, Co Offaly


* In memoriam, Seamus Heaney:

The blackbird's on the lawn again

But the car's not coming back

To disturb the bird's sweet singing

The driver is no more, alas!

But both have sung their songs,

No need of scaffolding now –

They both have built their love-walls.

Time did no more allow.

So, if you hear a sweet note

Way, way up there on the air

O'er Clifden, Mossbawn, Glanmore

Tune in – they're both still singing there.

Some songs have wild long echoes

In human hearts and soul,

For when the singers sang them

They pierced right to our core.

Larry McCluskey

Cootehill, Co Cavan


* I feel immense regret and sadness for the unnecessary death of Savita Halappanavar.

We should look inward at the values which have been preached to us over our lifetimes – then ask the question whether those values are compatible with any Christian humanity.

Harry Mulhern

Millbrook Road, Dublin


* David McWilliams (Irish Independent, October 9) correctly points out that the State is the country's biggest consumer and could offer a boost to the Irish economy by choosing to purchase local goods.

Not so long ago this was highlighted on George Lee's 'The Business' programme.

Here, a perfect example was shown; an Irish meat producer lost out to a British company for a €2.5m contract by a mere €6,000. This was to supply meat to the State's prisons.

This contract would have created extra jobs (thereby taking people off social welfare) and increased tax revenue for the State.

The Government in its procurement procedures needs to look at the big picture before rushing to offer contracts to businesses outside the State.

John Bellew

Dunleer, Co Louth


* I read with interest the letter from John Fitzgerald (Irish Independent, October 9) about animal cruelty.

I take his point about 'Love/Hate'.

No one wants to see cruelty towards animals, except for seriously disturbed individuals.

However, his reference to hare and pheasant is what draws my interest. The man is in serious need of education on the subject, especially in relation to the subject of pheasant shooting.

Firstly to hare coursing. Yes, hares are killed at these events but very few indeed.

Secondly, to pheasant shooting, with which I am much more familiar. Pheasants, even reared up and released birds, do not walk up to be shot. Driven shoots are organised so that birds fly over waiting guns.

Birds are generally high and in full flight and offer a sporting and fair shot. In other words, they have some chance.

They are also not wasted. They are eaten and make a very good casserole indeed.

In addition to this, the game-shooting fraternity does much in this country to promote conservation. All clubs have game sanctuaries and actively rear and release pheasant.

Some clubs also release grey partridge to try and bring the bird back to the country. These birds are not shot.

I wonder is Mr Fitzgerald a vegetarian? If not, then his letter borders on hypocritical.

Let me ask him which is more cruel: eating a pheasant, which has a life in the wild and a true chance of survival, or going to your local supermarket and picking up some steak?

The cow has no chance. It is reared in captivity and is destined for slaughter from birth.

Brian Larkin

Co Kildare

Irish Independent

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