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'They'd do an excellent job': MEP says senators should scrutinise EU legislation

What to do with senators now they’re saved? Seán Kelly has an idea…

Seán Kelly
Seán Kelly
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

FINE GAEL MEP Seán Kelly has suggested that now the Seanad is retained senators should focus on European legislation and policy.

The former GAA president has said that the reduction in the number of Ireland’s MEPs to 12 to 11 means that a role could now be found for senators to scrutinise what’s happening in Europe.

Speaking to radioep.ie, Kelly suggested that each member be given one of the 20 European Parliament committees each to examine legislation and see how it might impact on Ireland.

“They’d do an excellent job because there are some very intelligent people in the Seanad,” Kelly said.

He said that with more and more legislation emanating Europe and fewer Irish MEPs to scrutinise it this would be a change that could be done “in the morning without any legislation”.

Kelly continued: “TDs are again extremely busy in their constituency work. There is an awful lot of legislation in Ireland which has to be monitored.”

He said that now it had been decided to have a bicameral system in Ireland “we must make the best use of it and certainly I think this is an opportunity we should shouldn’t waste”.

“What is really needed is some group to focus on what’s happening in Europe and that will give us a huge advantage over the rest of Europe,” he added.

Speaking before an Oireachtas committee yesterday, UCD law lecturer Dr Gavin Barrett discussed the possibility of senators having a specific role in scrutinising what happens in Europe.

In a statement afterwards the chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on EU Affairs, Dominic Hannigan, said: “An enhanced role for the Seanad in EU oversight was also raised, with Dr Barrett pointing out that the current public appetite for reform of the Seanad had to be grasped with urgency.”

Barrett suggested that the EU Affairs committee have overall responsibility for the scrutiny process given the “profound impact” that legislation formulated in Europe has on Irish citizens.

Five-day weekend: The Seanad sat for just two days this week

Kenny: I’ve a busy schedule but I’ll talk about Seanad reform as soon as I can

Read: Everyone’s talking about reforming the Seanad, but how could we do it?

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Hugh O'Connell

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