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Seanad referendum

Seanad abolition was proposed 80 years ago

The former Fianna Fáil leader Eamon De Valera proposed abolition as part of his party’s 1933 General Election Manifesto.

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WHEN FINE GAEL and Labour came to power in 2011, a referendum on the abolition of the Seanad was one of the cornerstones of their political reform plans.

However, as the front page of the 21 January, 1933 issue of the Irish Press shows, Enda Kenny was not the first political leader to use the abolition of the country’s upper house of parliament as an election pledge.

Eamon De Valera included what the paper described as an ‘outstanding surprise’ in Fianna Fáil’s manifesto for the 1933 General Election.

In the piece, De Valera also promises to reduce the number of TDs from the 153 that were sitting in Dáil Eireann. The Fianna Fáil leader also said that there were no plans to cut the wages of lower- and middle-waged civil servants, as well as pledges to protect home markets and establish businesses in Gaeltacht areas.

The manifesto worked, with Fianna Fáil retaining power, albeit with one seat less than an overall majority.

Seanad reform would not come for another three years, however, when it was abolished in 1936. The modern Seanad was then established under Bunreacht na hÉireann in 1937.

Read: Government confirms date for Seanad and Court of Appeal referenda

Read: Seanad votes to hold referendum on abolishing the Seanad

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