Thursday 23 November 2017

O'Keeffe at odds with Labour over Seanad

Labour Senator Susan O’Keeffe
Labour Senator Susan O’Keeffe

THE Seanad is one leg of a three legged stool according to Labour Senator Susan O'Keeffe.

"Cutting off one leg doesn't help anyone," she says.

The Labour senator who hasn't actively canvassed on the ground during the debate, says reform is the way to go.

"We need reform of all three, local government and the Dail and the Seanad.

"I feel Government in this country is still too centralised," she says.

While the opinion polls suggest a yes vote, Sen O'Keeffe believes people are finding it difficult to decide.

"If you look at the don't knows it is standing at over 20%.

"That's very high on the Monday morning before a Friday poll," she says.

Sen O'Keeffe said her direct input into the campaign was the hosting of two debates, one in Sligo, the other Dublin.

"The overwhelming response from both discussions was for the retention of the Seanad.

"That was very surprising to me," she says.

The 53-year-old journalist, who lives near Collooney, was elected to the Seanad in April 2011 on the agricultural panel.

She polled 4,553 first preferences in the General Election but missed out in a seat in Sligo-North Leitrim.

Sen O'Keeffe is at odds with the party with her stance on the future of the Seanad.

However, she says party leader Eamon Gilmore is aware of her views on the matter.

"I was always 100% in favour of putting the matter to the people once and for all.

"I promised that I would vote in favour of bringing the legislation forward.

"The party leader is content to know there are differing views on the matter and that was made clear from the start," she says.

Sen O'Keeffe says the Government will run to 2016 and if the people vote yes on Friday the Seanad won't be abolished until then.

"I haven't thought about things that far ahead.

"Until we know the landscape there's no point," she says.

Sligo Champion

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