It was fairly recently that I found out that there was going to be a referendum on the Abolition of the Seanad. I wondered why they wanted to abolish it. I’m always suspicious of one lot of politicians trying to abolish another lot. So, as I have a vote, I thought I’d look into it.

The first thing I noticed was that the arguments of the abolitionists are a bit spurious.

“It costs €20m and the country can’t afford it”.

It seems that they wouldn’t save much for a very long time as the people working there are Government employees and would still have to be paid. The Senators would also be eligible for their pensions. So getting rid of it would save peanuts. It only costs each person in the country a fiver a year anyway.

That’s a tiny amount compared to the €31bn that ‘saving’ Anglo-Irish Bank cost when it didn’t even have any branches. That has cost every family in this country €21,000.

“Ireland has too many politicians for its size”.

That sounds like a good reason to cut down the numbers in the Dail and the Seanad (as was promised, I believe, before the last election) – not abolish one of the two layers of Government. Most other countries have more than one lever of Government and the reason is that they don’t want too much power in the hands of one lever of Government. The US has the President, the House of Representatives and the Senate and all three have to sign off on any bills.

“They have no power and haven’t intervened to throw out a law for 50 years”.

That sounds like a good argument for giving it more powers and not for abolishing it. It would have been good if, when Biffo was agreeing to prop up the German banks by putting the taxpayers money up for it, that he would have had to get this through not just the Dail where his own party in charge, but also an elected Seanad where Fine Gael might have been in the majority.

If that had been the case we might not have been in such an awful mess.


The Seanad as it currently is constituted doesn’t work very well. However, they had the same situation in the House of Lords in the UK and they are gradually changing it and will at some point have a mainly elected (or for fully elected) chamber. They are evolving towards that.

THere’s no reason that Ireland couldn’t evolve that way as well in the future. However, once it is abolished it will be impossible for it to evolve in the future – and Ireland will be left with only one effective lever of Government.

If they get it wrong, as they did so mightily recently, then there will be no other lever of Government which can stop them. THere should have been an extra option on the referendum and that should have been a fully elected Seanad. It leaves all the power in the hands of the Dail, the current election winners, Fine Gael, and in Enda Kenny – and that’s the way they like it.

However, that’s not the way I like it and so will be voting against Abolition. If there were good arguments for Abolition they would have put them. However, they only have the weak ones mentioned above. They want us to vote to give them more power, to trust them entirely despite their recent record.

I don’t and I won’t.