READ MORE- Government wants to abolish Senate, Irish upper house
An Independent Senator has criticized calls from main political parties to abolish Seanad Éireann, as a populist gesture.
Joe O’Toole has defended the Second House insisted that a reform and not abolition was required.
“No political party, whatever they are saying, is going to be enthusiastic about a second chamber where they have to listen to the voices of different groups of people whether it be from the Gaeltachts, Northern Ireland, business, farmers, unions, unemployed, voluntary groups, arts community etc,” Mr O’Toole said.
“We have this extraordinary situation in Irish life at the moment where people are screaming for a voice for civic society. The Seanad was set up to do that. The political parties made sure it never happened and now people are saying it’s not working, let’s get rid of it.”
He made his comments in response to Minister for Defense Tony Kileen who revealed on Sunday that the Government was strongly considering holding a referendum on the future of the Seanad in conjunction with the upcoming General Election.
Brendan Howlin, Labour’s spokesman on the Constitution has said that his party’s new policy was to shut down the Seanad.
Speaking on RTEs News at One, Mr O’Toole said the Seanad has not been allowed to develop as intended.
“They have now placed the ball for a penalty kick in front of goal. They’ll put it to the people and I have no doubt the people will vote to get rid of the Seanad because they have not been offered the alternative. They have not looked at what it would be like...It is like getting rid of an awkward neighbour. It is very attractive to the political parties to get rid of it and I’ll tell you something, the people who will lose are the ordinary people on the ground.”
The Independent Senator said that similar moves were made in Europe in the past: “In Europe in a recession, whether it be in Italy with Mussolini, whether it be in Germany with Hitler, whether it be in Spain with Franco, the first thing that happens in a recession is that people start cutting back on political accountability.”
He accused both coalition parties as trying to find “ways and means of prolonging the life of the Government”.