Fine Gael Laois/Offaly TD and Deputy Director of Elections for Leinster in the Seanad Abolition Referendum, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, has today (Sunday) said that the tactics being used by Barry Cowen TD show that Fianna Fáil has already lost the argument on saving the Seanad.
“Fianna Fáil and others on the No side seem determined to trivialise the savings that would be generated by scrapping the Seanad. This is despite the fact that, yet again, the Oireachtas Commission, has confirmed that it costs €20 million a year to run the Seanad. These are the only independent figures available.
“The €20 million is made up of about €9 million in direct costs, relating to salaries and expenses, another €9 million in indirect costs and €2 million in pension costs. Fine Gael has consistently stated that it will be up to the Government to ensure these savings are fully delivered, just like we have delivered savings elsewhere in the public sector.
“I believe it is time that we asked ourselves whether spending €20 million a year on a second chamber of parliament, which is elected by just 1% of the population, is really a good use of taxpayers’ money. At a time when every other area of the public sector has gone through difficult changes, it is only right that politics changes too.
“Fianna Fáil seems determined to distract the public from the substantive issue here; do we really need the Seanad? I have not heard Barry Cowen come up with one compelling argument to save the Seanad; because there is none. The Seanad is an elitist and undemocratic chamber, which is costing €20 million in taxpayers’ money every year. Does Barry Cowen think this is a good use of taxpayers’ money?
“The clear tactic of Fianna Fáil here is to try to deflect from the fact that is has flip flopped on the Seanad. Fianna Fáil was in favour of abolishing the Seanad in the 2011 General Election, but yet now it has changed its mind. Can Barry Cowen explain the change in his Party’s position?
“The question which will face voters on October 4th is a simple one; do you want to abolish the Seanad, yes or no? If you want to save €20 million a year, reduce our number of national politicians by a third and bring Ireland into line with every other European country of our size, all of which have just one chamber of parliament, then I urge you to vote Yes.”