The Regulations in relation to free postal facilities for members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, provide for monthly allocations of prepaid envelopes for both Deputies and Senators — currently 625 and 325 respectively. The allocations were reduced in June 2011 from the previous levels, as a means of achieving efficiencies.
Dumping the Seanad will free up 19, 500 envelopes. Maybe David Cullinane, Sinn Fein Group leader could snaffle them for Deputy Aengus O’Snodaigh, who prints a lot of stuff that will probably need to be sent out, once the Seanad is gone and Sinn Fein begin to celebrate another obstacle removed, on the road to the 1916 commemorations.
After a short period of reflection on the past eight years, I have decided to vote No to the abolition of the Seanad. My opinion is peculiar to me only. It is based on such an ephemeral thing as my intuition that doing away with the Upper House, will transfer too much power to a government, that is already remote, distant and sly. If the Yes vote fails, we keep our Seanad, but we can whistle for any reforms.
Mind you, I don’t think this current Seanad is any great shakes, with the exception of a few individuals, who appear to be working for the people, by pointing out the inadequacies of the current system, the abuse of privilege in the recent past and the rising sound of jackboots.
For those of you who haven’t read the literature that is being disseminated, here’s how the Seanad works. The Dail comes up with a new bill, which then goes to the Seanad for debate. The Seanad has up to 90 days to delay the bill, but they can’t ultimately stop it going through.
Toothlessness is not a pretty sight.
After a scarifying canvas of his constituency, with David Andrews, way back in the late Sixties. I vowed never to get into politics the abuse we got in Sallynoggin, sent me scurrying back to my music gigs, like a ferret with his ass on fire. In the Eighties, a close friend decided that he would join the Fianna Fail political party and because he was super-intelligent, erudite and oratorically gifted, he thought he would be welcomed as a messiah and cruise up through the ranks. I warned him that he would spend a lot of time sitting around Kosangas heaters, organising raffles at 10 pence per ticket. He tried it and lasted until the tickets went up to 20 pence, while he remained static. He cashed in his chips and went back to a dissolute life of nightclubs and mischief.
Personally I don’t hear enough aggression from the Seanad, albeit, there are the few who aren’t afraid to squawk. Before he became a TD, Senator Shane Ross was forever bravely questioning the status and the mysterious income of Il Duce, throughout Haughey’s reign of venal personal indulgences. He collaborated on books that showed up Bertie’s lies and bankers’ malfeasances and when it came time to confront Brian Cowen, Senator Ross was scared he would be obliged to stay up all night listening to the Lakes of Pontchartrain, sung badly.
Taking a cue from Shane, we would all like to see the Seanad demand a copy of bolshy banker, Richie Buckley’s schedule for a week, so he can show us what he does and tell us why he earns so much for so doing. Is there a Gold Standard for doing a certain number of hours that we don’t know about.
Thankfully, sometimes the Seanad gets under the government’s skin. During an interview in The Journal, Junior Minister for Health, Brian Hayes, accused the senators of using a filibuster and of “shouting, roaring and screaming at the government.”
That’s the kind of Seanad we need. My current champion in the Seanad, is Professor John Crown, a good man for poking his nose into the coalition’s shortcomings.
In one row, Crown asked for the Junior Minister’s attention. Hayes lashed back, “You lick yourself every night before you go to bed.” How puerile a response is that.
“Listen, in politics,” continued Hayes, “if you are prepared to give it, you have to be prepared to take it as well and it’s as much a lesson for him as it is for anyone else,”
Hayes is also the man who avowed that no one in Fine Gael expected Taoiseach Enda Kenny to call a referendum on the abolition of the Seanad. Hold on a second Buster. In the programme for government in March 2011, the Fine Gael / Labour coalition distinctly said they would abolish the Seanad. How quickly they forget!
Hayes is also reported as saying, patronisingly, that the judgement of Irish people on its future, was better than that of any politician. Who are you telling. If the Dail isn’t doing it, somebody has to take up the slack. And that’s why we need to hold on to the Seanad.Article Written by Shay Healy First Published in The Irish Daily Mail, Saturday 21st September 2013 Shay Healy’s latest eBook ‘The Danny Boy Triangle’ is Out Now on Kindle 2.99 Free Kindle Reader – download app