Seanad referendum ‘a power grab’

Barry Cowen TD
Fianna Fáil is urging voters in Offaly and across the Midlands to vote No in the Seanad referendum on Friday.

Fianna Fáil is urging voters in Offaly and across the Midlands to vote No in the Seanad referendum on Friday.

According to Offaly Deputy Barry Cowen, the proposal being put to voters is ‘a power grab by a government with the largest majority in history’.

“On Friday, voters will be asked to make the largest ever amendment to our Constitution. If this referendum passes, it will be a major step back for democracy. By abolishing the Seanad, Fine Gael and Labour would be cementing absolute Ministerial control over the political system and pushing politics further away from the people,” said Deputy Cowen.

“I know that people in Offaly and across the Midlands are disillusioned with politics. They want to see some real changes to our political system. But scrapping the Seanad is not the answer. In fact, if the Seanad is abolished an already too powerful government will become even more powerful.”

He added that the ‘political elite’ at the Cabinet table will have even more control over parliament.

“We will have lost important safeguards in our Constitution, we will have no automatic system for double-checking legislation, and we will have no option to reform the upper house to ensure that it is the conscience of government.

“On Friday, Offaly voters have a real opportunity to send out a strong message in favour of radical political reform. If the Seanad is abolished there will be no option left to reform it. We can tell the government that the choice they are offering in this referendum is not good enough. If the Seanad is scrapped, it will be too late to ensure we have an upper house that is more democratic, more accountable and that can scrutinise the work of Ministers on behalf of the people.

“The very last thing this country needs is to move politics further away from people. Everyone agrees that the Seanad as it currently stands doesn’t work. We need to make fundamental changes to its elections and its remit, so that the Seanad is the voice of the people and the vehicle for additional checks and balances that our political system really needs.

“I am asking voters here to get out and have their say on Friday. Only a No vote will send out the message that you want real reform,” concluded Deputy Cowen.