A new senator has called for the immediate abolishement of the Seanad – the upper house of the Irish parliament – after just two and a half hours in office.
Labor Party senator John Whelan made the dramatic call to the Sunday Independent newspaper when he declared the Senate to be ‘as dead as a dodo.'
Ireland’s new coalition government, which includes the Labor Party, is already planning a major reform of the upper house in a bid to reduce the cost of running the country.
But Whelan thinks the Seanad should be disbanded immediately an impression formed after his first day in the house last Wednesday when the Senate sat for just 150 minutes.
“For the mere two and a half hours we say, the contents of most of the debate consisted of the sort of blather we associate with Ballymagash Town Council,” said Whelan in reference to an Irish sitcom in the 80s.
“Senators spent most of their time talking either about themselves or their local parish pump issues. It was a total mess of back-slapping, wind-baggery and hot air.
“Ironically while all this was going on, Enda Kenny was in the Dail sharpening his knife, and after what I saw he has good cause to sharpen it for an institution which is farcical and utterly removed from the realities of people’s lives.”
Whelan told the paper he was also astounded when the Seanad adjourned after just two and a half hours – until next Wednesday!
He added: “In a scenario where there are huge controversies about Ireland’s place in Europe and Richard Bruton’s employment proposals, one would have thought we could at least have done a full day’s work last week and returned to Leinster House on Tuesday.
“David Norris and others may think the Seanad does not deserve to be abolished but on any analysis of last week’s performance we are as dead as a dodo, and we deserve extinction.”
Fellow senator John Crown told the same paper:
“The Seanad as currently constituted is an affront to democracy.”