Quite a few people have been taken in by today’s Irish Times article John Waters that “Abolishing Seanad would be act of supreme folly”. The real point of this article is to endorse Senator Ronan Mullen, with the article as mere window dressing to fool people into thinking there was a more general point at play here. He took the exact same tact in 2007 mentioning Ronan Mullen 5/6 times in the opening paragraphs of a piece during the election while claiming he wouldn’t be able to give him a mention or even endorse his views before then detailing those views. As a piece of dissembling, it was rather striking. And he’s repeating the exercise again with people gulled into thinking he has some serious point to make other than, if you like John Waters you should vote for Ronan Mullen. And you know what, if you do, then perhaps you should.
In 2007 John Waters said the Seanad was An Affront to democracy, and below is how he opened his piece entitled ‘Seanad is affront to democracy’.
I received a communication last week from Ronan Mullen who, aside from being a fine columnist with another newspaper, is a candidate on the NUI panel in the Seanad elections, writes, John Waters
He was asking for my support. I wept copious tears, partly for being reminded once again, as I am on each occasion of a Seanad election, of my inferior status, and partly from the emotions generated by Ronan’s obvious misapprehension – gathered, I assumed, from the quality of my spelling and punctuation – that I had in fact been to “college”. When Ronan followed up his e-mail with a phone call, it emerged that he was fully aware of my democratic deficit (I did not go to university and therefore am a non-person when it comes to elections to the Seanad), but thought perhaps I might give him a mention in this column.
Regretfully, I had to decline. Though impressed by Ronan’s passion and commitment to promoting the dignity of the human person, his strong views on the importance of family and community, his call for global solidarity and opposition to human trafficking, I explained that I was opposed to oligarchy and could not make an exception. My position, I outlined, is that I am a believer in universal suffrage and looked forward to the introduction of full democracy into Ireland in my lifetime. It would therefore be inconsistent to recommend one elitist candidate over another. Ronan told me he shares my views and believes that both the system of election and the broader operation of the Seanad are in urgent need of reform. For the Seanad to be meaningful as a second house of parliament, he said, it would have to be “more democratically elected and more seriously capable of forcing a second look at legislation”.
He goes on to discuss the O’Rourke report and the failure to implement it though apparently this failure was no fault of anyone’s especially not the government of the day which Mary O’Rourke TD’s party was the main component in. He goes on to lament that “because Seanad elections trample on the most basic principles of democracy, the sheer uselessness of the Seanad might be deemed its sole redeeming quality.” So he reckons that the Seanad elections trample on the most basic principles of democracy but his view now is that we should retain the Seanad not for what it is but for what it might have been, that’s like keeping a rat because it could have been a hamster.
He finishes by saying that “Like many before her, Mary O’Rourke was fired with resolve and good intentions but forgot that nobody takes the slightest notice of anything any member of the Seanad has to say about anything, especially the Seanad.” If that doesn’t sound like someone making the case for the Seanad’s abolition I’m not sure what does.
*needless to say the image is of a much more straight forward and upfront John Waters than the bloke writing for the Irish Times.