Ten reasons to vote No to Seanad Abolition

voting day in a small town

voting day in a small town (Photo credit: Muffet)

  1. VOTE!

    VOTE! (Photo credit: Kristin Lucco X)

    Vote NO, because you never accept a first offer from a reluctant reformer.  The referendum is what our American cousins would call “a low ball” offer on electoral reform, accept it and you won’t see another word about changes to the political or electoral process for decades. It locks in our current Dáil electoral system for a generation. Ask Richard Bruton, he’s said that we can’t reform the Seanad because there is no broad agreement on the shape of any reform proposals (leaving aside the 2004 cross party support of the O’Rourke proposals. I might not have liked them but the parties did.)

  2. Vote NO, because when it comes to making laws and especially given the attention span of the average TD you need to be sure, to be sure. Double checking and an excess of scrutiny is actually a good thing where making changes that could end up costing the state and her people their future freedoms.
  3. Vote NO, because you can only answer the question put to you. That is do you want to abolish the Seanad, Saying no doesn’t mean you want to keep it exactly as is. It just means that you don’t want to take the step of abolishing it. Just as saying “No I don’t want to see that awful murdering fecker swing from a rope until dead” doesn’t mean that you want them to get off scout free either much as opponents of the abolition of the death penalty might have liked to say it did. P.S. Voting NO is also not an endorsement of any specific set of reform proposals. You’re just saying “NO I’m not in favour of abolition”. You are not being asked if you are in favour of leaving the chamber as it is, just as saying “NO I don’t want to put the cat out” doesn’t mean you’re happy for the cat to remain sleeping on your pillow next to your spouse.
  4. Vote NO, because the Dáil isn’t able nor are it’s members motivated by the actions of voters to do the work (dull and tedious, undemanding of attention that it is) that the Seanad does do. What is that? It’s the sub-editing part of creating legislation, dotting the ‘i’, crossing the ‘t’ and making sure that the laws of the land are more specific than a simply, “ya can’t be doing that, it’s wrong and unfair to boot!”. You know how good all the newspapers are now that they’ve gotten rid of all the sub-editors and fact checkers, preferring to rely on Microsoft  Word and wikipedia instead? Yeah, that’ll be the Dáil. Banning horsing with hairs and brood sports, not to mind restricting the access of miners to Tabasco.
  5. Vote NO, because if the Seanad was truly redundant then the Dail would be already doing all work that it maintains we don’t need the Seanad to do i.e. if the Dail was capable of producing quality legislation then there wouldn’t be any need to have amendments produced in the Seanad, regardless of whether they are coming from the government or the opposition. Yep, the Dail and the government could have proved over the past 2 years that there genuinely was no need for the Seanad by getting legislation right the first time they looked at it.
  6. Vote NO, because there is no good reason to accept the removal of the power of a minority part of the Oireachtas to petition the President to refer a bill to the electorate. It’s got nothing at all to do with the argument being made for the proposed changes. I still can’t see why that’s being done and there’s no reason being given for it either. It’s like your hairdresser proposing to cut your hair in a certain style and then clipping just one of your toenails. It’s just odd and without logic.
  7. Vote NO, because the Seanad isn’t the governments watchdog. It says it right there in the constitution, the Dail is the government’s watchdog. It’s like listening to the actual dog in your house advocating that you should kill the hamster for not raising the alarm when Bertie and the Burglars were ransacking the nation’s coffers to buy some sort of goldie looking electorate.
  8. Vote NO, because you should never grant permanent powers to an office that someone you do trust holds only temporarily that you would not trust your worst political enemy with after that. Imagine a Dáil with 120 SF/FF deputies in coalition and no coherent opposition front benches. Those super power committees the government is championing could be swept aside in the blink of a new piece of legislation and then were would we be. The Seanad has it’s lag of on electoral change (caused at present by an electorate larger made up of cllrs elected at another time but which could be retained by rolling elections to the Seanad both at General election time and at local and European election. This means that a government has to representative of a sustained change in public opinion before it can go truly off the rails.
  9. Vote NO, because if you happen to be someone who actually supports the government in general (or Fine Gael as I do) and you’d never really give much credence to the arguments being put forward by the Yes campaign if the person saying them was Gerry Adams or Michael Martin then you shouldn’t accept them from anyone else either. If you wouldn’t be convinced of the merits of the argument from out of the mouths of your enemies then going with “Trust me I know what I’m doing” is no basis for accepting constitutional change.
  10. Vote NO, because if the Seanad goes without any changes being made to the Dail electoral system we will lose our only living breathing examples that non-geographical constituencies (the ill named university seats) can work and that a chamber elected using them wouldn’t be a mirror image of the Dail. Those panels don’t throw up more than the average percentage of of interesting people with well argued positions of a political perspective because the electorate has a degree. God no, have you seen the state of most of our graduates from those two institutions (TCD and the NUI)? If you want to see the larger single cohort of them particularly the older ones, fetch yourself up to one of our holiday towns like Bundoran or Killarney at Easter and see the Teacher Unions at play. Yep there are loads of graduates who are teachers, tens of thousands in fact and don’t look at them for wisdom in choosing who should be in the Oireachtas. No, it’s the separation of the voter from the locality that provides the filter to up the idea and rational argument quotient.
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