Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Monday) said that the public will have an opportunity later this year to reduce the number of national politicians by 30% and save €20 million a year by voting Yes to abolish the Seanad. Deputy Doherty was speaking after she was appointed as Fine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum.
“I am delighted to have been appointed to work on this campaign alongside Minister Richard Bruton TD, who is Fine Gael’s Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum. Every family in Ireland has had to make sacrifices over the last number of years, and I think it is only right that the political system does the same. By abolishing the Seanad we can save €100 million over the course of a Dáil term; a considerable sum of money which could be spent on public services, like schools and hospitals.
“Voting Yes to abolish the Seanad will also reduce the number of national politicians by 30%, and it would bring us into line with our European counterparts. Almost no other country of our size has two separate chambers of parliament. Progressive small countries like Denmark and Sweden have shown that they can have a better democracy at less cost with single chamber parliaments. This is the time to make that change in Ireland too, and put the money where it is most needed.
“The Seanad is shockingly undemocratic; in fact just 1% of the population voted to elect the current Seanad, and it doesn’t do anything that isn’t already done in the Dáil. And the last time the Seanad actually rejected a draft law was 50 years ago. I fundamentally believe that this is a luxury the political system can no longer afford.
“Those opposing the Referendum will claim that the Seanad should be reformed. But ten reports have been published on reforming the Seanad, and yet we still have the same undemocratic, ineffective Upper House. Rather than putting forward another plan to find a purpose for the Seanad, this Government is asking a much more fundamental question; do we actually need the Seanad?
“The first time I became aware of the Seanad was back in 2007, when I was asked whether I would like to run in the Seanad elections because I hadn’t gotten elected to the Dáil. I declined because I didn’t think the Seanad played any meaningful role in our democracy. And now after spending two and a half years as a TD, I am convinced that we should bring ourselves into line with every other small country in Europe by abolishing the Seanad and saving €20 million a year in the process.”