Enda Kenny wants to abolish the Seanad..

Just heard on the 6’oclock news that Enda Kenny wants to abolish the Seannad… Norris was interviewed and said that it would not save any money what with re-deployment costs, golden handshakes etc… :unamused: Also said that he( Kenny) is just looking for something, as Gilmore stole his toys over the CC expenses incident…

This was announced at the FG Presidents dinner on Saturday night. Details are that FG would hold a referendum on the future of the Seanad within twelve months of gaining power after an election, also proposes to reduce the number of TDs by around twenty. Not the same as outright abolition, FG reckons it costs 30million a year to run. Norris would be against it wouldn’t he? On the radio all day, a lot of FG senators pissed off because it was announced without them being pre-warned. Not sure of pros and cons, people can make up there own minds.

Ive no problems with this.
In theory, democracies benefit from an upper house, however, in practice the seanad has become nothing more than a compensation seat for failed TDs.

True. It’s a great pity this happened though imo.

The function of the Seanad should be as follows - while the main house (dail) should be entirely devoted to the representation of interest, through people duly elected to represent such interests, the Seanad is supposed to be devoted to the representation of opinion or the broader public good outside of individual interests. - It should be realised that opinion and interest are entirely different political phenomena.

Really, we needed to come up with a system whereby our most educated, most experienced, and most civic minded , were appointed to this house.

It is a wrong idea for them to be elected as normal, either by political parties or citizens, because the role of the seanad is to remove the representation of interest from the debate that goes on there.

Yes, in the dail, it is all about representation of interest. This is how it ought to be.

It was Thomas Jefferson who conceived of the need for this house – because he saw how in history, representative democracy often became just as tyrannous as any dictatorship. Perhaps, even worse. The Seanad was designed to protect ourselves from ourselves (and our gombeen representatives).

It has to be said, that if the difference between representation of interest, and representation of opinion had been acknowledged by our political classes, we might easily have been able to put a stop to the pathologies of the corrupt boom years, earlier.

I support this if only to get rid of another avenue for Shane Ross…


Not knowing a lot about what the senate or upper house is supposed to do, I’m too young to remember the senate as anything other than a retirement village for failed td’s, I read the page above.

And it definitely seems to have a role to play, as long as it is independent.
Reform is what is needed, not abolition. On the other hand, Ireland is so goddam parochial, that I think the idea of having a completely independent body is so unlikely that this would be almost impossible to achieve.

If we want to have a second body with teeth, I’d have a single legislature with 29 members voted on nationally on a single STV vote (i.e. one ballot paper). Five thousand taxpayers have to sign for a nomination. They can only nominate one person (i.e. you don’t get to nominate multiple people).

One would also have to change the way legislation goes to/from the senate, I believe.

I’d agree with that. Would it be possible to make it illegal to have to vote along party lines, some members, possibly all, would be affiliated to political parties but there should be a mechanism by which they can’t be censured by their party for not taking the party line on certain issues.

I think the only way to do it would be to severely limit advertising spend (so that losing the support of your party doesn’t mean you can’t fight the next election). This would unfortunately mean the state paying for those successful or not, but I’m sure there are ways around it - slots on RTE, official literature and the like.

No, the ideal of a senate entails that candidates cannot campaign or seek election for themselves at all. The reason is that they must be completely free to express their own opinion and deep convictions that their (preferably illustrious) life has taught them. If they campaign, then they must promise something in return for a vote. Thus compromising the free expression of their opinion and convictions. This goes against the whole principle of a senate.

Rather, someone else would have to put them forward, and the candidate would not be able to have anything to do with the election process at all.

Would it be compulsory to serve if you are elected?

Why not allow applications from anyone, and then run a lottery for who gets the seats? Would be both democratic and avoid campaigning on interest issues.

I suppose it would require quite different mechanisms to what we are used to. But, thinking back to how the ancient Greeks originally chose their representatives, they just drew lots - every citizen was educated fully to engage in public life, to orate, think logically, engage in argument, be tolerant and fair in argument etc, then they just drew lots as to who would perform the legislative duties. (as far as I know they just had the one house for making legislation).

Could work. Though I think it would be wise to have to meet minimum criteria in terms of education, experience, acheivement etc. Same principle as drawing lots like the ancient Greeks as per post above.

EDIT - Actually, great idea. That’s the one :slight_smile:

An upper house is only useful if it’s going to represent someone and/or check the power of other. The Seannad does neither, like the Presidency it’s just a place to stuff people.

Either scrap it or completely reform the system. You could change the Dail so it has a shorter election cycle (say three years) with TD’s subject to recall if enough signatures can be found. The Seannad could have a longer cycle (Each senator sitting for 6 years, 50% of the house up for election every 3 years). You could also make the sitting government accountable to the Seannad via expert committees that ministers have to report to. At times like this I dearly wish there was a committee of reasonably knowledgeable folks the finance minister had to report to and explain what the heck he’s doing.

Edit: Would now be a good time to mention my crazy ideas about 20% of the Dail being e-voted? You’d need to correct for people not bothering to vote at all but there’s no reason why it couldn’t be as easy as voting for X-Factor or whatever.

But the Greeks also had the ability to ostracise those who really got on their tits. A simple majority was all that was required.

Mind you, So-crates had a rough time of the libel laws…

Nope. The original idea was better. You can’t go limiting who people can vote for beyond excluding those who are denied their liberty/serving a punishment - lunatics and criminals… oh, maybe we should just reform the current system?

You want to see experienced, educated, high-achievers run the country. This is fundamentally unrepresentative. Not least of the young who should have the possibility to have someone represent them.

The option to banish a few of these fuckers would be useful now.

Wouldn’t it just?

I had an idea that I put on the original political reform thread, wherever it is hidden, that each voting paper should contain a negative vote. So you get to vote in preference order for who you want, but you get one chance to say “not this fucker under any circumstances”. It got shot down :cry: , but I still think it’s a good idea and I see it as a modern day ostracism method. Think of the joy it could bring!

And the presidential election results are as follows:
P. Hantom, Invisible Party, one thousand, nine hundred and forty-three votes.
David Norris, Monster Raving Queen’s Party, one million and seven votes
Mary Mary, Party of Mary, one million and six votes
Patrick Bartholomew Ahern, FF, minus six votes…

The only two systems which could work would be either myself as dictator for life or failing that a wise council of pinsters.