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Fine Gael councillor erects posters calling for No vote in Seanad referendum

Dublin City Councillor Professor Bill Tormey said there was never a vote in Fine Gael on abolishing the Seanad and is calling for a No vote next month.

The posters have been erected in parts of north Dublin
The posters have been erected in parts of north Dublin
Image: Picture provided to TheJournal.ie

A FINE GAEL councillor in north Dublin has openly defied his party’s position by erecting posters calling for a No vote in the Seanad abolition referendum next month.

Professor Bill Tormey, a councillor for the Ballymun Finglas area, erected the posters yesterday in the Glasnevin, Drumcondra and Finglas areas of north Dublin on the same day that Fine Gael launched its campaign for a Yes vote.

The posters refer to him as ‘Cllr. Prof. Bill Tormey’ and urge voters to ‘Please Vote No’ but do not state in which referendum with two being held on 4 October.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Tormey said that there was a never a vote within the party on the decision to abolish the Seanad and said he is in favour of reforming the upper house.

“It was decided centrally,” he said of the party’s decision to abolish the upper house – first announced at the Fine Gael presidential dinner in 2009.

He added: “To just say Yes or No is lazy politics. It’s reform but reform doesn’t mean improvement of the situation.”

Noel Rock, a Fine Gael candidate for the local elections in the area, criticised Tormey, saying: “It’s disappointing: he doesn’t even make it clear which referendum he’s opposing.

“It just looks like opposition for the sake of opposition, and an attempt to get himself some publicity.”

Fine Gael said it is policy not to comment on internal party matters and added it would not be in a position to comment until it has spoken to Tormey.

‘Absolutely absurd’

Tormey also criticised the party’s arguments for abolition saying the claim that one per cent of the population elects the Seanad is “absolutely absurd”.

He explained: “The Taoiseach is elected by 166 TDs, a witheringly small number of individuals in the country.

“To say one is perfectly alright and ignore and pillory the other situation (in the Seanad) where someone is elected by a proxy vote, by councillors is absurd.”

Tormey also disagreed with the Yes campaign argument that other countries of a similar size to Ireland have only one parliamentary chamber. “I am Irish, I am not a Dane, I am not a Swede,” he said.

He confirmed that he did not use party funds to produce the posters, saying he paid for them himself but declined to say how many he has put up.

On the possibility that Fine Gael might ask him to the posters down he said: “I will deal with that as it comes.”

Tormey, a specialist in chemical pathology and general internal medicine, has been a Fine Gael councillor since 2004 and unsuccessfully contested the last two general elections in Dublin North West. He also failed to get elected to the Seanad in 2011.

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Read: Fianna Fáil thinks Seanad abolition is ‘transparently ridiculous’, but Fine Gael disagrees

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Hugh O'Connell

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