Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris has called on Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, to drop his theatrics about the Seanad, and come clean to the Irish people about why he is opposing Seanad abolition when he was in favour of it in the last General Election.
“In the 2011 General Election, Micheál Martin, was very clear on Seanad Éireann. He said it was struggling to justify its existence, that it had ceased to be relevant and that second chambers are not an essential part of a parliamentary democracy. Yet now he has done a complete u-turn on the issue and is calling for the Seanad to be protected. Perhaps the first debate Deputy Martin needs to have on this issue is with his own conscience.
“Micheál Martin knows the Seanad is not needed. He said so himself. His flip flop on the issue smacks of a man who is struggling to assert his leadership and rebuild his Party. His change of heart on the Seanad is undoubtedly more to do with his desire to keep it as a training ground for aspiring Fianna Fáil politicians, rather than a new found conviction about the need for the second chamber
“When it came to taking a position on the Stability Treaty, Deputy Martin lost his Deputy Leader. When it came to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, Deputy Martin wanted his party to support the legislation but simply couldn’t make that happen. And with the Seanad referendum, Deputy Martin clearly can’t afford any political fallout with his own Senators, many of whom are hoping to get into the Dáil at the next General Election.
“Micheál Martin’s approach to policy formulation seems to be based on the principle of ‘anything for a quiet life’ from a leader constantly having to look over his shoulder to check that the troops are still behind him.
“It is time for Deputy Martin to stop the charade. Trying to create a hullabaloo about having a debate on the issue is simply a smokescreen to distract from his own change of position. No previous Taoiseach has ever taken part in a referendum debate. Micheál Martin wants to use this referendum as an attempt to elevate his own importance. The Taoiseach, meanwhile, is concerned with running the country.
“Fianna Fáil performance during this campaign has been transparent. Micheál Martin has changed his position on the Seanad in a bid to protect his own party interests, and he’s trying to distract the public from this fact by obsessing over a television debate.
“The vote on Friday isn’t about Micheál Martin or Enda Kenny. It’s about whether we want to bring about radical change in Irish politics.”