Role of Seanad

  • As the  Seanad Election 2016 approaches, the question has to be asked ‘does party politics serve the people or the party’.  The fallout from the General Election 2016 has resulted in many high profile TDs losing their seats and the challenge for   political parties now is how to enhance the profile of those who lost so that they are ready for the next general election whenever that comes. The people of Ireland decided by way of a referendum to retain the Seanad in 2013.  However, I doubt that anyone voting in that referendum wanted the Seanad to continue as the old boy’s staging post that it has become since 1937.

  • Today (19 Feb 2019) at the Order of Business in the Seanad,  I  countered the very serious suggestion by the Leader of the House, Senator Jerry Buttimer,  Fine Gael that the ongoing debate  on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 is bringing the Seanad into disrepute. It has been implied that the almost 70  hours of debate has damaged the reputation of the Seanad and by implication its members.  I pointed out that since the commencement of Committee Stage debate, the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption had questioned whether the  Bill was in line with European Standards and if it actually secured judicial independence. In addition the European Commission in a report in March 2018 was definitive and explicit in its  view  that the Bill was not in line with European Standards. As recently as November 2018 the Irish Times Editorial stated “It is still not too late for the Government to scrap the ill-advised Judicial Appointments Bill being foisted on the country at the whim of Minister for Transport,  Shane Ross.”

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