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Hildegarde Naughton Fine Gael via Flickr
Seanad referendum

Seanad's newest member wants it abolished, admits it's a 'gateway' to the Dáil

Hildegarde Naughton said she sees the upper house as a “gateway” and said she wants “to get a feel for the workings of the Dáil and Senate”.

FINE GAEL SENATOR Hildegarde Naughton has admitted that she took her seat in the Seanad because it is a “gateway” to the Dáil.

The Galway-based senator was appointed to the upper house as a replacement for Martin McAleese in July but despite being its newest member Naughton said she wants it abolished.

She told TheJournal.ie this week that it was an honour to be appointed by the Taoiseach in the summer but was clear about her intentions.

“I see this as a gateway, to get a feel for the workings of the Dáil and Senate,” she said.

“It’s no secret, and the Taoiseach is aware, that I want to put my name forward for convention to contest the next general election.”

She added: “I see this as a gateway to work at a national level over the next two-and-a-half years.”

Naughton admitted she is probably in the minority amongst Fine Gael senators in wanting the upper house abolished but said that “it’s not democratic”.

“When you look at how the Seanad is elected, 97 per cent of the population don’t have a say, and it’s not how a Republic should operate,” she said adding her main argument would not the cost.

“There is no price on democracy,” she said.

The Taoiseach’s nomination of Naughton to the Seanad in July was widely seen as an attempt to shore up his numbers in the upper house after Fine Gael removed the whip from senators Paul Bradford and Fildelma Healy-Eames over their vote against the abortion bill.

It is also seen as a move against Healy-Eames and expelled Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh, both of whom ran with Naughton in the Galway West constituency at the last general election.

With both now outside the parliamentary party, Naughton will be the clear favourite to be the party’s candidate at the next election though Walsh’s recent decision to shun the Reform Alliance may offer him a route back into the parliamentary party.

Former Galway mayor Naughton said she expected to be given a portfolio in the Seanad in the next few weeks.

She added that her priorities would be national issues, issues relating to the western region, tourism and job creation.

Read: Fine Gael councillor to replace Martin McAleese in the Seanad

Read: How much will Seanad abolition save? Quinn doesn’t know, but Hayes says it’s €20m

Rumble in Ranelagh: McDowell and Quinn clash over future of Seanad

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