Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Enda versus the Seanad

So Enda Kenny has put the cat amongst the pigeons with his speech last Saturday night where he proposed the abolition of Seanad Éireann and a reduction in the number of TDs elected to the Dáil. This seems to have come as quite a shock to even his on parliamentary party as FG representatives clogged up the airwaves over the last few days with protests.

The Seanad is made up of 60 members elected or appointed in the following manner
  • 11 appointed directly by the Taoiseach
  • 6 elected by university graduates (3 TCD, 3 NUI)
  • 43 from vocational panels as follows
    • 7 from administrative
    • 11 from agricultural
    • 5 from education and culture
    • 9 from industrial and commerce
    • 11 from labour
In theory this is meant to allow people from each of the respective groups in society influence policy through ammending legislation in the upper chamber. In practice, the Seanad has become a resting home for those who loose their seats in the Dáil, potential Dáil candidates of the future who could do with some experience or (worst of all) people to whom the Taoiseach of the day feels a certain obligation (eg Eoghan Harris).

The main problem with Enda Kenny's plan is that he needs to pass a referendum to abolish the Seanad. Articles 18 and 19 outline the requirements and role of the Seanad and both articles would have to be removed. After a succesful referendum, legislation would have to be passed to repeal the enabling legislation. Realistically the Seanad would cease to exist when the general election after the next one is called - sometime between 2015 and 2017 most likely.

The funniest part of this whole situation is that the most vocal opponents of this proposal are the very same FG senators who pretty much to a man will be elected to the Dail next time out. Perhaps they should just keep their heads down and stop drawing attention to the fact that Enda has gone off on yet another solo run.

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