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Mathews: ‘The Seanad is like a car with 90-day brakes and I like to be in a car that has brakes’

The newly-formed Reform Alliance reiterated that they are a group of individuals with no united decision on the Seanad.

The Reform Alliance
The Reform Alliance
Image: Hugh O'Connell/TheJournal.ie

THE GROUP OF former Fine Gael TDs and senators now known as the Reform Alliance said today they did not have a united decision on the issue of Seanad abolition as they are a “group of individuals”.

At a media briefing outside a Dublin city centre hotel they stated that they are “no different than any other party” as other parties also have differing opinions within their parties on the Seanad issue.

The group consists of TDs Lucinda Creighton, Billy Timmins, Terence Flanagan, Dennis Naughten and Peter Mathews and senators Paul Bradford and Fidelma Healy-Eames.

They stated however that they are unanimous in their agreement that if the Seanad is maintained then it needs to be reformed and should not continue to exist in its present form.

Speaking about the upper house, Dublin South TD Mathews said:

The Seanad is kind of like a car, it’s not necessarily the car that is going to bring the country where it needs to go on all matters but it is a car that is there for the safe passage of legislation. It has brakes, 90 day brakes. And I like when I’m in a car that has brakes rather than be in a vehicle that has no brakes.

Galway-based senator Fidelma Healy-Eames said she will be canvassing for a No vote on abolition and carrying on from that a yes vote for reform if the Seanad is saved

Power to delay

Healy-Eames said she he is worried that without the delays that the Seanad has the power to use, the public will have less time to reflect on legislation. She said the time delay the Seanad provides is “critical”.

When senator Paul Bradford was asked if we would like to be back in the party fold he said:

I am a member of Fine Gael. For me there are two political certainties,  number one, I am a member of the Fine Gael party.Number two is that the Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and the Fine Gael whip Paul Kehoe and the Minister for Environment Phil Hogan said we will not be back in the Fine Gael party in the next election. I am working in the here and now.

He added that he was disappointed at the events that led up to his and his colleagues expulsion, stating “the Fine Gael party broke its word to the electorate and us on the issue of abortion”.

The group added that, despite speculation, they understood they cannot join the current Dáil Technical Group.

Under Dáil Standing Orders, TDs who leave parliamentary parties during the term of the Dáil cannot move to join another grouping, in this case the Technical Group.

As a result the TDs are currently prevented from having any speaking rights.

Wicklow TD Timmins has put down a motion to amend standing orders but so far the government has said it will not amend the orders to allow for a second technical group.

Read: “Our priorities are the country’s priorities” – Reform Alliance

Read: Rebels meet today but Peter Mathews insists: ‘There’s no new party. I’m a Fine Gael member’

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