Thursday, October 03, 2013

Why I'm voting "no" in the #Seanad Referendum

OK - first, I know no one cares whether I vote "Yes" or "No" in tomorrow's referendum to abolish the Senate. But here goes my rant anyway! In referenda, I normally go with what the government says is the right thing to do, but not this time. I am voting "No", as is my democratic right.

Seanad Éireann.
Image source: Wikipedia.
Since I graduated from Trinity College in 1983, I have had a vote in the Seanad elections to elect the three Trinity senators. This is a privilege that I take seriously, and have voted in every election since. I have had the pleasure of voting No 1 for Senator David Norris in every election since he was first elected in 1987. He, and many others such as Mary Robinson, Shane Ross, Joe O'Toole, Fergal Quinn, Noël Browne, Catherine McGuinness, Éamon de Buitléar, Garret FitzGerald, Douglas Hyde, Seamus Mallon, Conor Cruise O'Brien, T. K. Whitaker, Gordon Wilson, and many others, have made enormous contributions to Irish society through their roles as Senators. I say we are less without them.

The abolition of the Senate will save €20 million, but no one can seem to agree on the exact amount. If it was just about money, why not reduce the already enormous salaries the politicians pay themselves by €10,000 each to a slightly less enormous salary. Or stop the enormous pensions they get. Or just stop waste. I'm not convinced.

The abolition of the Senate will reduce the number of politicians. Turkeys voting for Christmas, I never thought I'd hear politicians campaign for a reduction in their own number! I'm not convinced.

The abolition of the Senate will make creating laws more efficient. Yeah right - our so-called democratic government already steamrollers through legislation without adequate discussion in the Dáil, never mind the Senate. I'm not convinced.

The abolition of the Senate will remove a powerless group of people from the Oireachtas. Well why stop there? Our President has no power, so why not get rid of him - that'll save a few bob. There are 166 TDs in the Dáil, most of whom are just lobby fodder, why not get rid of a few of them - more bobs saved. Actually, real power lies in the hands of very few people, so why not get rid of all those pesky politicians who get in the way - lots of bobs saved. Can Duce Kenny be far away? Is he that desperate to say that he won a referendum? I'm not convinced.

So I'm not convinced that getting rid of the Senate is a good thing, I'd be in favour of reform rather than abolition. 

Finally, despite many pleas from the media and politicians not to use my vote as a protest vote, I sure as hell protest at what the Government is doing to our country by lining their own pockets, wasting precious resources, and failing to tackle the bankers. 

So "No" it is.