Kenny ‘lacks courage to engage in Seanad debate’

Enda Kenny faces growing pressure to take part in a head-to-head debate over the future of the Seanad after he was accused of lacking courage.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin dismissed the Taoiseach’s claim that the future of the Seanad and the Oct 4 referendum on its abolition could be debated properly in the Dáil. He said the Taoiseach was “ducking and diving” to avoid a proper debate.

Mr Martin said he was disappointed that Mr Kenny would not take part in a head-to-head debate on TV or radio.

“He disingenuously suggested that there could be debate on this in the Dáil. He knows full well that there can’t be, and there won’t be, and the idea that in Leaders’ questions with two minutes for the opposition and three minutes for the Taoiseach somehow constitutes a head-on debate on the abolition of the Seanad is a joke and is insulting to the public.”

Speaking on the second day of Fianna Fáil’s pre-Dáil think-in in Waterford, he said Mr Kenny needed to explain why he was avoiding a head-to-head debate.

“He’s afraid or avoiding for whatever reason what would be a logical outcome in any democracy, ie debating it in public with opposition leaders. The Taoiseach is not doing it, he’s ducking and diving; he really needs to have a better answer.”

Earlier, Mr Kenny told RTÉ that a debate could take place in the Dáil as it was “the most public forum” in the land.

Mr Martin, who first made the challenge in an interview in the Irish Examiner during the summer, claimed there was a strategy to avoid debate by the Government and the Taoiseach.

“I know if Richard Bruton was leader, he wouldn’t have a problem debating with opposition leaders,” he added.

“There is no facility in the Dáil for such a debate, let’s be honest about that. He [Mr Kenny] should have the courage and conviction and should debate it in public with party leaders.

“I think he does lack courage and conviction in terms of the proposal he is putting forward.” It was “unacceptable” in a modern democracy not to participate in such a debate, he added.

He reiterated Fianna Fáil’s claim that the coalition had rammed through important legislation through the Dáil, relating to the property tax.

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