17 years in power since 1989 and no Seanad reform by PDsMeath East TD and Fine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum, Regina Doherty, has accused Michael McDowell of taking an elitist and undemocratic approach after he called for the Seanad, which was elected by just 1% of the population, to be saved, and suggested that unelected individuals should be parachuted into Cabinet.
Deputy Doherty added that although it was PD policy to ‘terminate’ the Seanad, during his 17 years in Government Michael McDowell did nothing about it.
“Michael McDowell once described the Seanad as ‘a cross between a political convalescent home and a creche’. As a leading figure in the PDs he said his party was committed to ‘terminating the Seanad’ but had ‘failed to convince Fianna Fáil that the time was ripe for comprehensive constitutional reform’. During all his time in Government, Michael McDowell did nothing to either reform or ‘terminate’ the Seanad. Yet now he has become its avid defender.
“Michael McDowell, a former Government Minister, Tánaiste and Attorney General, is protecting an elitist system, where a tiny minority of the population elect a second chamber of parliament, and he wants unelected individuals with no accountability to the public to be appointed as Ministers. You could be forgiven for thinking that Michael McDowell doesn’t trust the Irish electorate.
“Michael McDowell argued today that unelected Party appointees should be given roles as government Ministers, without any say by the voters. I absolutely believe that those sitting around the Cabinet table making crucial decisions should be fully accountable to the public. And I believe 100% of the electorate should have a say in who runs this country, not the 1% Michael McDowell wants to protect.
“I expect the public will see that Michael McDowell is being disingenuous and opportunistic. He will continue to make his elitist argument, but the Government wants the people to decide. The choice on October 4th is a simple one; do we want to reduce our number of national politicians by a third, bringing us into line with every other small country in Europe; do we want a more representative and transparent parliament; and do we want to save €20 million a year that could be better spent on other important areas? I believe the answer is Yes, and that’s why I will be encouraging as many people as possible to vote Yes to abolish the Seanad on October 4th."