Fine Gael’s Director of Elections, Minister Richard Bruton TD, has this evening (Wednesday) said that Fianna Fáil’s true reason for wanting to keep the Seanad has been revealed, with figures showing that the Party receives €445,000 a year from the Exchequer for its Senators, under the leaders allowance paid for all political parties. This amounts to about a third of Fianna Fáil’s State funding.
“The Referendum Commission has confirmed today that the cost of the Seanad may be above €20 million per year, following queries from the One House group. The comments from the Commission prove that not only is the €20 million figure copper fastened, it is conservative.
“Closer inspection of figures compiled by One House show that there are a litany of extra costs run up by the Seanad every year, such as millions of euro on severance payments for Senators, and extra costs run up by Government departments dealing with Seanad business.
“Of particular note is the fact that the leaders allowance paid to each political party is not included in the €20 million figure. The leaders allowance is paid for each individual politician. Each Party is paid almost €47,000 for each of their first five Senators, and just over €23,000 for each additional Senator. This means Fianna Fáil receives in the region of €445,000 from the State for its Senators every year.
“Fianna Fáil is the only Party in the Dáil campaigning to save the Seanad and hang on to this Exchequer funding. It’s easy to see why Micheál Martin, a man who is trying to rebuild his Party, would be very reluctant to give up what amounts to a third of his total Party funding.
“Fianna Fáil have led a disingenuous campaign calling for the retention of the second house. The Party went before the people just two years ago calling for the Seanad to be abolished. And now, as Micheál Martin tries to rebuild support, he is clearly reluctant to forgo any of his Party funds.
“Every other Party in the Dáil, including Fine Gael, is happy to forgo this Exchequer for the sake of modernising our democracy. The Seanad is an undemocratic and costly second chamber which a country of our size does not need. It is time for Micheál Martin to come clean on his motives.”