Martin says final days will decide Seanad fate

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said voters have not switched in to the upcoming referendum on the abolition of the Seanad and that the final days of campaigning would ultimately decide the result.

Martin says final days will decide Seanad fate

He said the last two weeks would be crucial in determining the outcome of the Oct 4 vote and that turnout would play a significant part in the deciding vote.

Opening his party’s two- day think-in in Waterford, ahead of the Dáil resuming this week, he also accused the government of rushing the electorate into the vote: “If you look at previous referendums, they showed similar gaps [between the yes and no sides] around this time of a campaign and obviously the last two weeks will be crucial in determining the outcome. Turnout is going to be important.

“Many people are not yet switched in to the fact that there’s a referendum campaign on the way. The Government is indicted for rushing this immediately after the summer.”

Parliamentary party members attending the pre-Dáil meeting are discussing the upcoming referenda, October’s budget, the new legislative term, as well as next year’s local and European elections.

Recent opinion polls also indicate recovered support for Fianna Fáil, with one weekend poll giving the main opposition party 23% of support.

Closed meetings for TDs and senators yesterday also featured discussions with economist Colm McCarthy, as well as former IMF deputy director Donal Donovan, who is now with the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.

Mr Martin said his party’s own proposals on the upcoming budget would call for “fair” measures which would continue to help reduce the financial deficit. His party also believe that previous suggestions by the Coalition of €3.1bn in savings for next year would be too much for the economy.

“We believe that €3.1bn is excessive in this specific budget. We’re committed to the 3% [reduction in GDP] over the two budgets and the overall targets set. We do believe there’s a crying need to give people a break and in particular the domestic economy.”

The Irish Examiner understands part of Fianna Fáil’s budget proposals will include financial relief for businesses, as well as means to fund infrastructure projects in education and other areas.

Mr Martin also dismissed any suggestion that next year’s local elections would be a test of his leadership. He said the party were still looking for new councillors to run.

A focus of the party’s campaign to retain and reform the Seanad will be highlighting how the Government has allegedly betrayed the trust of voters and rushed through crucial legislation, the Cork South Central TD said.

“We think the government’s approach has been a denial and betrayal of the promises it made in the general election, particularly on how to reform politics and how Ireland is governed.

“We’ve witnessed how a government can abuse a huge majority [in the Dáil], by ramming through the House... legislation like the property tax without adequate debate and amendments to that bill in 24 hours.”

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