Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Enda Kenny on abolishing the Seanad (Senate)

Kenny wants to Enda Senate shock

nda Kenny may well have the personality and charisma of a newt, but he deserves credit for his proposal to abolish the inherently undemocratic body that is the Senate (or Seanad).

Kenny has shown an ability to surprise in the past, such as when he called for Gaelic to be made a non-compulsory school subject – attracting predictable howls of protest from Ireland's powerful Gaeliban (Irish Language lobby).

So let’s look at the Senate, the chief purpose of which – like the British House of Lords – is concerned with giving privileged, but otherwise insignificant, blusterers some kind of nominal function and Gormenghastian status.

Eleven of the sixty blusterers are appointed by the Taoiseach (prime minister) of the day. One example being Sunday Independent bore and waffler Eogan Harris, who was rewarded with a senatorship by Bertie Ahern for defending him and his dismal Government on the eve of the last election… just when some sections of the electorate where showing faint signs of getting wise.

A further six are “elected” by the graduates of TCD and NUI. Naturally, given the self-perpetuating nature of the entrenched class system and third level education in Ireland – populated as it is by the middle-class brats of the well-off (whose fees are paid by the taxpayer) – this too helps ensure an innate conservatism.

Finally, 43 blusterers are elected by “Vocational Panels”, which for the life of me, I cannot figure out. But let’s just say it involves sitting Dail members, selected council members and others, arranged by “vocational interest”. And some people here had the neck to give out about Lisbon and the EU??

Today’s Irish Times reports that the salary of a senator is €70,135, topped-up by a further €45,000 in “unvouched expenses”. They sat their privileged bottoms on the Senate benches for only 93 days in 2008, and the whole charade costs us a whopping €25 million a year to run.

Kenny is talking about calling a referendum to abolish this elitist talking shop. Bring it on.


Ella said...

Hi GM, It's a good thing to rid us of the Senate. I hope they do. On another note is this not the Enda Kenny who said a few years ago that he would reimburse eircom shareholders who lost money if Fine Gael got elected? He will say anything that is populist and is an opportunist. And this is populist, but if he can bring it about great.

Anonymous said...


Did you know that no less a figure that the great Eamon De Valera himself wanted to abolish it all those years ago, describing it as a "...vestigial remnant of obsolete constitutional arrangements"

There you go...

You're a child of Dev after all..

Get Smart said...

GM....In your dreams Kenny! Where have I heard this before, yes in the UK Blair wanted to reform the Lords. He did by filling in up with lickspittles and now there more of them then before.He even started to sell the titles for contributions.
The great and the good will never give up this perk. Strange thing is you will find most countries have such a system it allows paybacks to be given to cronies.

Anonymous said...

Scrapping the Seanad is the headline grabber but reducing the TDs is his main aim. Obviously FG have calculated that they will get a bigger slice of a smaller pie.

Peter said...

I am very disappointed in all those Political people, not many of them really put up much of a fight when we all knew ten or twelve years ago that it was wrong in so many ways to put all our expectations in the Building Trade here and drop all other or most of the other ways for tax raising in Ireland, we now are paying the price for bad and silly political people here in Ireland from all parties, they are all complicit along with the Government for not forcing them to stop at least ten years ago and take the right decisions then and we would not be up the creek without the paddle.
Enda Kenny spent too much time at the beginning of his Leadership scoring points of Bertie, he really should have been preparing for to do battle for the People of Ireland in the hope of getting better treatment from the shambolic Government of Fianna Fail.

The Gombeen Man said...

It's a fair point, Peter. The only TD I can remember consistently speaking out against property tax shelters, for instance, was Joan Burton.

If I knew, you knew, and anybody who had half a brain in their head knew that these tax incentives were inflating a massive bubble; how come the opposition - with the honourable exception of Burton - did not? Why weren't they kicking up blue murder at the madness of it all?

As you say, far too much lightweight point-scoring seems to be the order of the day.

Michael Kielty said...

Interesting to see this 1936 Debate @ http://debates.oireachtas.ie/seanad/1936/01/16/00005.asp

Mr. MacEllin: I was referring yesterday evening to remarks that were made by the President at some stage either in this or in the other House in connection with the abolition of the Seanad. He inferred that it was no harm to experiment. Experimenting has proved a lot of things in various aspects of life. It has proved one thing, that if you do not experiment, you can make very serious mistakes and, consequently, I have a feeling that it would be a very good thing to experiment in this instance. I, also, believe that the experiment if, and when, carried out may prove some of the prophecies made about Single Chamber government to be of no value. As a matter of fact, I do think, with the Party leaders we have to-day, that that experiment could prove to be effective and satisfactory. If that were so we might have a continuance of that system. But we are not discussing the pros and cons of this issue merely for to-day or to-morrow. We have to look to the future, and it is quite possible, when the present Party [1815] leaders are not here and are succeeded by others whom we do not know to-day that it would be hard to determine whether the experiment of Single Chamber government would be successful under those people. Nevertheless, I have not the slightest doubt, so far as the present Irish leader is concerned, that no reactionary decisions would be likely to be taken, or that there would be any abuse of the majority he holds in the Dáil to-day.


The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks for the comment, Michael.