Abolish the Seanad?

5 Oct

On Friday October 4th there were voting stations all over Ireland decided whether to abolish the Seanad, (Irish Senate). Ireland is currently facing tough economic times and cut backs have been made all across the board. Everything from schools to building projects has been affected by the lack of funding. Even with all the money that has already been cut there is still much more that has to happen. Ireland has to find ways to save money and cutting unnecessary spending is certainly the first thing. Abolishing the Seanad would save Ireland twenty million euros a year. That amount of money being cut could save others from taking a pay cut, or from school being unable to afford new books.  

As a new resident of Ireland I have very little understanding of how the government works. I decided to research a little to see what the thoughts of the Irish people were. The first article I read on BBC News they interviewed some ladies that were drinking coffee together. The topic of the day was whether to abolish the Seanad. None of the ladies were sure what the purpose of the Seanad was. They all complained that, “the Seanad is a rest home for people who could not get into the Dail (the main chamber of parliament) or who have been kicked out of it.” They also criticized that, “It is stuffed with the useless cronies of the powerful it is undemocratic and a scandalous waste of money.” When I first read this I was all for abolishing what seems to be a useless government powerhouse, but making such a strong judgment so quickly is never a good idea so I read on.Image

The next part of the article they interview Professor Michael Gallagher in Department of Political Science at Trinity College Dublin. He explains how the idea to abolish the Seanad was first proposed by the Taoiseach, or the Prime Minister, Enda Kenny. He did this when he was in opposition as a populist move. Gallagher explains, “Some voters are seeking revenge on politicians who let the economy overheat in the Celtic Tiger era and then oversaw the painful retrenchment afterwards, with so many young Irish people leaving to work abroad.” Gallagher also goes on to say, “The 20m euros may not represent a huge saving but it would be an important symbol. People want politicians to suffer the way they’ve suffered, and Ireland wouldn’t be the first place to lose its second chamber.”

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Now I look and I see that people are angry at their politicians and want them to know they are unhappy. So should the Seanad be abolished because the people of Ireland are mad? Or should they be kept because they do serve a purpose in the Irish government and in a couple of years when the economy is in better shape they will be able to afford them? The answer to that lies in the hands of the Irish voters. 

-Anna Wilhite 

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