Newswire » Your Say! » Is It Time To Abolish The Seanad?

Is It Time To Abolish The Seanad?

harp_largeBWe are currently experiencing what may turn out to be the worst dual financial and political crisis since the founding of the Irish republic. Like previous troubled times on this island, not only are we broke, but there does not appear to be an immediate way out, and our younger generations are beginning to emigrate once again. But, what makes this crisis a little bit different to those that are consigned to Irish history, is that we apparently now also owe a whole heap of cash, to businessmen, to financial institutions, and to foreign governments across the globe.

This ‘new debt’ realisation has been at the epi-centre of making the Irish public feel very worried about the current system, to such an extent that the average man/woman on the street are beginning to evaluate our system properly, for the very first time. All of us now want to know what allowed our system to take us to this current crisis point, and we want to fix that problem. Of course we are starting to realise that there are many such problems within our system, and that we have a massive job on our hands, if we do decide to make a modern and truly democratic system in Ireland.

In my opinion, if we are to make a better system for Ireland, one of the first major issues we should resolve surrounds the Dáil and the Seanad – do we really need both of them?

I personally don’t think so myself, and apparently some of our mainstream political parties publicly agree with this view too, including Sinn Féin and Fine Gael, although during the last Seanad Term, Fine Gael, amongst others, signed up to an all-party ‘Seanad Reform Bill’, which recommended to expand both the number of Senators, and the number of Taoiseach’s appointee’s. Only our mainstream politicians could begin to know how this will make a more inclusive Irish society, because I cannot see any logical reasoning behind this, other than to create more ‘jobs for the boys’.

Here is why we need to disband the Seanad;

1- It Is Undemocratic:
All Senators are appointed by those in power, and by special interest groups. None are directly elected by a cross-section of the public. With 11 of the 60 Senators being directly appointed by the Taoiseach, it is hard to see how this can act as a democratic balance to the government in power, when so many Senators are directly appointed by the person in charge of that government. Another three Senators are appointed by the graduates of National University of Ireland (UCD, UCG, UCC, Maynooth and some affiliated colleges), and a further three by Trinity College Dublin graduates. The remaining 43 Senators are appointed by TD’s, Senators, and by local councillors. All of those 43 Senators can only be nominated by powerful interest groups, including trade unions, financial interest groups, major national charities, farmers organisations, retail organisations, and other big business interests.

2- It Is A Waste Of Money
It normally only sits for two days per week, with no sittings during plenty of weeks throughout the year (classed as holidays). While it is hard to get an exact figure for the cost to the taxpayer for the Seanad, here is what Senator Phil Prendergast (Labour) estimated on October the 19th, 2009… “It is estimated that the Seanad accounts for between 20% and 25% of the entire cost of the Oireachtas [which consists of the Dáil, the Seanad and the office of the President], which is upwards of €20 million annually. This means that it costs the guts of €200,000 per day to run the Seanad and if one makes a conservative estimate that a three-hour debate comprises one third of Members’ average working day, then this Seanad debate costs €75,000, not including the hours of the Minister’s staff”.

3- It Is A Waste Of Time.
It cannot initiate legislation, and it cannot stop legislation going through which it deems as unconstitutional, if the Dáil has already passed that legislation. So what can it do? It can slow legislation down a little by debating it, and it can suggest amendments (which the Dáil can ignore). But can’t we all?

For those three reasons alone, I can see no real use for the Seanad in the current Irish system, but I also see that the job, which the Seanad was intended to do, can be done properly in a newly reformed Irish democratic system. The public can become the checks and balances for the Dáil.

If we begin to debate how we would like to change the current system, we may find that, within a couple of elections, we may stop debating around in circles, and we may have a clear wish-list of changes we actually want to make to our system. I have set up to join that debate.

Please drop over and leave your ideas for creating a fairer Ireland here>

The Views of this Your Say! article do not necessarily represent the views of the Fountain Resource Group. If you agree with this contributor, or perhaps you disagree and would like to write a response, feel free to email us at to have your say!

Fountain News DigitalThis article was originally published in:
Fountain News Digital – December 2010 (Issue 2)

We are re-publishing all articles from our past newsletter, Fountain News Digital, and you can view all completed newsletters here. There were nine issues published in total between 2010 and 2012.

Timeline of our local news services (1994-2013)

#hashtags logo Hashtags:

Leave a Reply

© 1991-2014 Fountain Resource Group Ltd. · Registered Company Number: 193051C · RSS · Website designed by Solid Website Design