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'Kenny will have to force TDs to canvas ahead of vote'

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is facing an uphill battle to get his TDs and senators to 'pound the pavements' ahead of the referendum on the abolition of the Seanad.

Sources say that Mr Kenny will "practically have to force people onto doorsteps" before the vote.

"It is unlikely that there will be a major effort by backbench TDs, especially as the referendum is scheduled to coincide with the budget in October," the source explained.

A lack of campaigning has been repeatedly highlighted as a reason why Governments lose referendums.

And on this occasion, the junior coalition party, Labour, is largely split on whether the Seanad should be abolished, while the main opposition party, Fianna Fail, wants it reformed.

Mr Kenny is quietly being criticised for his "all or nothing" approach to the issue when many within the party believe that reform should also be option.

The Taoiseach has indicated that sees the referendum as a simple 'yes' or 'no' option – but Cabinet sources say that if the public vote to retain the Upper House then reform will have to come into play.

"If there is a negative outcome we can't simply say that is the end of the story because already the debate is largely about abolition or reform. Nobody is saying that the Seanad is perfect the way it is," explained the source.

They noted that while Fine Gael minister are fully backing the referendum the Taoiseach may live to regret his hardline stance on the issue.

However, junior minister Lucinda Creighton has became the first high-profile member of Fine Gael to waver from the party line.

 

SUPPORTIVE

The minister for European Affairs said that she stand by her view that there is "an obvious role for the Seanad".

At the same time she said that she was "very supportive" of Mr Kenny's decision to hold a referendum.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said he is fully convinced that the country needs fewer politicians.

He said people do not believe that politics has been reformed enough in the face of the current economic crisis, or that the Government was also reforming the Dail.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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