Referendum on abolishing the Seanad set for October

Amid angry scenes, senators have voted in favour of a referendum which could sweep away the Seanad.

They voted 33-25 to approve the landmark constitutional poll which is to be held on Friday, Oct 4.

Railing against the move, outspoken Independent senator David Norris branded the referendum legislation a “piece of rubbish” as he accused the Government of “dishonesty”.

Fianna Fáil’s leader in the Seanad, Darragh O’Brien, called the move the “greatest act of political vandalism” in the State’s history.

Brian Hayes, the junior finance minister, said it was “pitiful” the way that senators opposed to abolition had attempted to portray Taoiseach Enda Kenny as an anti-democratic dictator.

Opponents of abolition criticised the date for the referendum as this will only leave two weeks of campaigning once the Dáil returns in September.

Fianna Fáil senator Mary White compared the drive towards abolition to the Act of Union and the end of Grattan’s Parliament.

Fellow party senator Diarmuid Wilson claimed that some government senators had been promised projects in their local areas if they backed abolition and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

Mr Hayes said the future of the Seanad would be decided by the people, not a group of politicians worried about their own career paths.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty said she was not expecting to receive the apology she sought from Mr Norris after he accused her of “talking through her fanny”.

Mr Norris insisted he did not regret the incident. “Non, je ne regrette rien. I don’t regret anything except the simpering hypocrisy of people who wrote about me in the media, and started off with they were so sorry about my brave fight for cancer, all the rest of it.

“I don’t like hypocrisy. Leave my illness out of it. If you’re going to stab me, stab me cleanly without any old blathery, hypocritical crocodile tears,” he told RTÉ.


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