Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Retaining the Seanad: Vote No!

I was unsure about this referendum.  The Seanad has long been a bit of a wasted opportunity.  A landing spot for failed Dáil candidates; Bertie's appointment of Eoghan Harris; the famous 'weekend Senators' who get appointed for a couple of days at the end of a term in order to get past-members' parking rights and all that other bullshit.  Generally speaking it is a failed institution, and in truth we won't miss much if and when it's gone.

I'm voting to retain the Seanad.  Why?  Because of the cynical, populist, and arrogant way in which the Government has decided to execute its campaign.  This isn't reform, it changes nothing.  The problem is with the concentration of power, and this does nothing to address that.  This is nothing to do with saving money - no permanent jobs will go, and no buildings will go.  Yet the Government has said that this is why they are doing it, and, according to the Irish Times poll on Monday, that is why most people are in favour of abolition. Kenny and Fine Gael may have trumpeted the abolition of the Seanad loudly as a policy platform in the run up to the election, but they never once mentioned cost.

The abject lack of reform in the Dáil is what is being swept under the carpet here.  Once this has been put to bed, electoral and Dáil reform will be off the agenda for the remainder of the Dáil term.  The whip system will remain.  The electoral system will remain the same.  The excoriation of the Dáil as a relevant chamber will persist.  The concentration of power in the executive, in the top of the executive, will endure.  The government has succeeded in creating an effective dictatorship, without checks and balances, without accountability, and doomed to repeat the same mistakes that we made the night of the Bank Guarantee.  The government is too close to see it, and the rest of us are either blind or disinterested.  Sure, we have elections, and we can change who the dictator is.  But the song remains the same.  

No comments: