The purpose of the Thirty-second Amendment of the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Éireann) Bill 2013 is to fulfil the Programme for Government commitment to hold a referendum on the abolition of the Seanad.
The referendum will be held on 4th October 2013 on which day the Government is also holding a referendum on the establishment of a Court of Civil Appeal.
In July 2009 at the MacGill Summer School, Enda Kenny announced that Fine Gael was embarking on a root and branch analysis of the political system. As part of that analysis, Fine Gael looked in detail at the role of the Seanad and came to the clear conclusion that reforming it was not realistic or achievable.
The key difficulty with all of the proposals for reform is that they take the existence of the Seanad, with its widely-acknowledged flaws, as a given. It would either remain an unrepresentative elitist composition or a directly elected entity that would seek to duplicate the Dail.
Instead, the correct approach is to start by asking whether we need a second House at all and Fine Gael doesn’t believe so.
For 75 years political insiders have discussed and debated Seanad reform. 10 reports on reform of the second house have been published since it was established in 1938. Yet not a single one has been implemented.
The proposed abolition of the Seanad is part of this Government’s comprehensive programme of political reform €”a programme that will establish a new politics in our Republic, one that is more accountable, more democratic and more responsive.