Coalition warning to Seanad vote rebels

Coalition leaders have warned defiant Oireachtas members not to campaign against the abolition of the Seanad ahead of a referendum later this year.

Coalition warning to Seanad vote rebels

Some Labour members have indicated they will vote against the move.

However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday pointed out that both Labour and Fine Gael had made pre-election promises to abolish the Seanad. He said he expected government party members to campaign for its closure.

Mr Kenny, speaking during a tour of the Baltic states, said: “Every candidate who became a TD who campaigned in that election did so in the full knowledge that this was a programme and a decision that would be followed through and implemented and allow the people make their decision subsequent to the election.

“The decision is clear, it’s unequivocal, it’s government policy. Everybody campaigned on that and they knew that when they signed up to their pledge.”

However, Dublin Mid West TD Joanna Tuffy said the abolition would lead to less parliamentary accountability.

“The Labour Party does allow you to hold your own opinions on these issues. I’ll be going out and vigorously campaigning against the abolition of the Seanad.”

Earlier, Labour whip and Kildare North TD Emmet Stagg said he would back an Oireachtas vote for its abolition, but he would oppose the measure at the ballot box in the October vote.

“The idea of a single chamber system is very dangerous,” he said.

Senator David Norris (Ind) also accused Mr Kenny of using bullying tactics by warning that coalition TDs had to fall into line.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has already said he expects party members to fall into line with the Government campaign.

A Labour spokesman last night said there would be a whip in place for the Oireachtas vote on the legislation. The party would also campaign for the move ahead of the October referendum. However, “there are often dissenting voices and we’re more tolerant than other parties”.

Deputy Labour leader Joan Burton said individual TDs were entitled to vote whatever way they wanted to in the privacy of the ballot box but another Labour TD, Eamonn Maloney, said the Seanad was “elitist and undemocratic” and needed to be shut.

The Dublin South West TD said: “To this day it has remained true to its roots and serves no useful purpose. To this day it is, in many cases, a reward for failed politicians and a playschool for aspiring politicians, which makes it a very costly quango.”

Seanad leader Maurice Cummins ruled out a delay passing the abolition legislation through the Seanad. He said senators would sit “night and day” to debate the legislation by the summer.

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