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Dublin: 18 °C Sunday 12 July, 2020

Labour: 'The case for retention of the Seanad has failed'

Labour made its closing argument ahead of Friday’s referendum at a press conference in Dublin today.

Eamon Gilmore flanked by Alex White and Joan Burton
Eamon Gilmore flanked by Alex White and Joan Burton
Image: Barry Cronin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE LABOUR PARTY has put forward its closing argument for abolishing the Seanad, saying that the case for retaining the upper house has failed.

At a press conference in Dublin this morning the party’s director of elections Alex White said that the arguments for the No side have concentrated on the “purported potential of the Seanad rather than anything it has in fact achieved”.

He said none of the proposals for reform address “the elitism that is inherent in drawing exclusively from interest groups” and added: “The case for retention of the Seanad has failed.”

At the same event, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said that Labour was asking people to vote Yes to two “very straightforward” propositions, referring to both the Seanad vote and the referendum to establish a Court of Appeal which also being held on Friday.

“We do not need two parliamentary chambers,” Gilmore said, adding: “I have heard no convincing argument for two parliamentary chambers in a country of this size.”

White, Gilmore and Labour’s deputy leader and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton all urged people to come out and vote on Friday.

Burton claimed that the fall in the Live Register numbers today was a “product of the reforms” implemented by the government and said the Seanad vote was another of these.

She said a Yes vote “is going to give us a further step towards a more streamlined and cost effective political system” and said that single chambers served Denmark, Norway, and Sweden – which itself experienced a banking crisis in the 90s – “perfectly well”.

Gilmore said that what the government is implenting is the “biggest reform of local government since the 19th century” referring to abolition of town councils and reduction in the number of councillors for next year’s local elections.

The Tánaiste and the Taoiseach are expected to discuss their political reform proposals and specifically their Dáil reform plans with the leaders of the opposition parties later today.

Read: Here’s how Twitter reacted to last night’s Prime Time Seanad referendum debate

Declan Ganley: “Fewer politicians” is not an argument for getting rid of Seanad

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Hugh O'Connell

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