Launching the One House pressure group, LRC chief executive Kieran Mulvey, who played a major role in getting the Haddington Road pay and perks deal for the public service together, insisted he was not taking a party political position.
“Sometimes in public life you have to take a stand by the principles you believe in. I think if more people in public life had done that in 2008 and 2009, this country would have been in far better shape,” he told RTÉ.
After former Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton expressed surprise at the move, Mr Mulvey said the Fine Gael TD was “obsessed by myself and my role”.
Ms Creighton used Twitter to ask whether it was a coincidence the LRC chief wanted to “gag elected TDs” and abolish the Senate. “Leave democracy to him and his unions?” the Dáil deputy asked.
Mr Mulvey claimed the role would not compromise his independence at the LRC. “I have been in public life for nearly 40 years. I feel strongly as a citizen regarding this matter. I’m very conscious of my role as the chief executive and independence will not suffer nor my integrity by my involvement in this group in regard to the abolition of the Senate,” he said.
As polls show the gap between pro and anti-abolition opinion tightening ahead of the Oct 4 referendum, the One House group insisted the Oireachtas did not need two chambers.
Mr Mulvey insisted the group was a civil society organisation, and stressed that the country’s four biggest parties had campaigned for Seanad abolition at the last election — though conceded that Fianna Fáil has now changed its stance.
Other group members include ex-politicians Liz McManus and Alan Dukes, and barrister and Labour councillor Richard Humphreys.
Mr Mulvey and fellow One House members said pro-Seanad campaigners were putting forward the idea of a reformed “fantasy” second chamber that would never come to pass.