Referendums

5 Oct

seanad-15
On October 4th there will be a vote concerning the abolition of the Seanad, or the Irish Senate. The Seanad’s main role is passing laws, or rather, having the power to delay the passing of laws. If the referendum is passed, the following changes will go into effect: The articles in the Constitution dealing exclusively with the Seanad will be removed and the Seanad will cease to exist before the Dail meets after the next general election. Across Dublin there are posters demanding the shutdown of the Seanad.

As a foreigner in Dublin, this seems like a very radical idea. To abolish an entire government house is very strange to me. I suppose its probably a cultural thing, especially since we are very sheltered from government change. Well, in light of recent events, concerning the U.S. government shutdown, eradicating the Seanad seems almost normal. Nonetheless, it surprises me that so much of the Irish population is backing this referendum. A recent poll showed that 40% of Irish people are in support of voting “yes”. I can understand that at sometimes, the Seanad could be considered inefficient, as it can only delay laws, not veto them. It would make much more sense to pass this responsibility to an already existing governing body. Also, cutting the pay of the Seanad would save the Irish government money, aiding the current debt crisis the country is facing.

Overall, the abolition of the Seanad is probably a good idea, but will most likely fail. As much as people would like to see change, change is difficult, and a radical move like this is very risky. The current Irish state cannot afford a risky move, that’s what pushed the country into turmoil already. I would be very surprised to see a referendum like this passed, in spite of its purposed benefits.

-Sachin Mehta

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