In defence of a reformed Seanad

FloatingVoterTralee

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In the wake of Enda Kenny's proposal to abolish the Seanad and rumours that FF will hold a referendum on same in conjunction with the general election, it has become unfashionable to support the upper house, but I am firmly of the opinion that with fundamental reform, the chamber can still play a vital role in Irish politics. My proposal would be that each county would have equal representation of two members in the Seanad, giving 52 members in all, on the basis as the US system, voted on by universal suffrage. If the complaint was made by councillors of a distance from local government, heads of reformed regional governments could serve as ex officio members, but only once reforms became enacted.

A unicameral legislature would increasingly lead to diktat by Government, and therefore by Cabinet, with independent scrutineers and the checks and balances provided by nonpartisan members increasingly lost. Sometimes, the national interest must come before public demands.
 


Winalot

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We do not need, nor can we afford, a useless talking shop for windbags.
 

FrankSpeaks

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I agree, I think it is better to have a second house to look at legislation in depth.
 

im axeled

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is there not the presidents council or some such body already in situ for such things
 

TradCat

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I agree, I think it is better to have a second house to look at legislation in depth.

Then let's abolish the first house. Because if they can't look at legislation in depth they have no business passing it. We need one chamber that functions as a legislative assembly. Not the two gombeen collections we now have. If anyone wants reform (and we all do I'm sure) then concentrate on getting the Dail right.
 

Finbar10

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Only just made a long post about the Seanad on another political reform thread a few minutes ago. May as well just cut and paste it here.
On the ball - fully agree - do you not think that the Upper House should be reformed rather than abolished? It could scrutinise all appointments as well as work as a corrective legislative House. The possibilities for Senate reform are endless and it could tackle patronage head on. However Senatorial patronage strike at the heart of what is sick in our politics. Reform the Senate and make it directly elected.
IMO plans to abolish the Seanad are populist in the worst sense and show a lack of imagination. True, it doesn't contribute a great deal at the moment. But with a bit of creativity it could be turned into something that improves the quality of politics here. Abolishing it is only going to save a couple of million a year (small change in comparison to the 10s of billions we are pouring into the black hole of the banks) and vent some anger at politicians. And I've a feeling that any referendum to abolish the Seanad may not go as smoothly as planned. There's a good case for reform rather than abolition.

Would make it directly elected. And would give it greater powers. 60 Senators is a good number. Giving it greater powers would increase the chance of gridlock. But compared to the US where there's a big occurence of gridlock, Senate v President v Congress, we're at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, zero gridlock, what the Taoiseach says goes, no opposition. Even a small amount of gridlock in our system wouldn't be a bad thing at all.

At the moment a Seanad majority can only delay non-money bills by a few months. I'd increase this to a year, with a 2/3 majority delaying a bill by 2 years, and a 75% majority blocking the bill entirely.

I like your idea of transforming the Seanad from a body very much a beneficiary of patronage to one that actually tackles patronage. It should have a veto on almost all public appointments. Maybe a 2/3 majority could veto any appointment. And prospective appointees would have to come before the Senate or one of its committees. The only exception for me might be the judiciary. We need a system that takes patronage out of the appointment of judges. But using the Senate in this way might overly politicize the process.

My ideas for composition of the Seanad depend a lot on what other parts of our system are reformed. If the Seanad were the only body being substantially reformed I'd model it roughly after its earlier form in the Free State constitution.

A reasonably long fixed term (not dependent on Dáil elections), 6 or 9 years. With 1/3 of Senators being elected by the people every 2 or 3 years. This would be doable under PR STV under a single nationwide constituency. 20 Senators being elected at a time. Would be a bit unwieldy to have to write down choices 1 to 20 from a big list in a polling booth. So it might be a good idea to introduce some form of widespread postal voting. Or even if ballots were distributed to people well in advance of voting day and they could, at their own leisure, figure out and fill in their choices, just handing in the ballot to the polling station on election day. I'd also do away with any need for by-elections in the Seanad. Candidates that didn't get elected to the 20 seats in a Seanad election would still be ranked in order of their PR elimination. Upon death or resignation of a Seanad member, the next person in the list would take the seat. As a once off sweetener to current TDs, after direct elections to the first 1/3 of the Senate, the remaining 2/3 of members could be appointed by the TDs via secret PR ballot.

I also like your idea of having much more powerful local government. If our local government mirrored places like the UK or Switzerland we'd have roughly a dozen powerful local authorities, each with their own assembly and directly elected mayor. But we're a long way from that. Each Canton in Switzerland is almost a country in itself, with its own constitution and laws, with 70% of revenue spent at Canton level, with the Federal government having only 30% of the budget. If local government is allowed to become more powerful here, I'd agree in reserving seats for the various local governments in a Senate. Or maybe if the electoral system for the Dáil was changed to a nationwide PR or open list system, electing the Senate in a more regional or local basis might also make sense. But in the absence of other reforms I would think the best course at the moment would be to elect the Seanad on a nationwide basis. Greater Seanad powers to give better separation of powers and nationwide elections to balance the intense localism of the Dáil constituency electoral system.

Other ideas. The restriction that a maximum of two Senators can be ministers could be weakened or removed. The suggestion from the most recent report on Seanad reform that the leader of the Seanad should be a de facto minister and be allowed to sit at cabinet isn't a bad one. Perhaps the leader of the Seanad could be titled Tánaiste.

The provision that a majority of Senators and a 1/3 of TDs could petition the president to put a bill of national importance to an ordinary referendum becomes relevant.

It was also originally intended for the Free State Seanad that a 60% majority would allow it to refer any Dáil non-money bill to the people for a referendum. If we ever incorporate citizens' initiative mechanisms into our constitution something along those lines might not be a bad idea for the Seanad. At the present the Seanad cannot initiate a bill to amend the constitution. I'd leave that. But perhaps in the future giving it the power via a supermajority (75 or 80%) to refer non-money bills to the people for a referendum would give it another useful power.
 

Keith-M

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Get rid of the senate, a list system for the Dail to avouid clientelism andd beef up the power of a smaller number of local authorities.
 

FrankSpeaks

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Then let's abolish the first house. Because if they can't look at legislation in depth they have no business passing it. We need one chamber that functions as a legislative assembly. Not the two gombeen collections we now have. If anyone wants reform (and we all do I'm sure) then concentrate on getting the Dail right.
The purpose of the Dail is to debate the day to day issues, propose legislation and bring the government to account, they do not have the time to look at legislation in the minute detail that the Seanad can.
 

reknaw

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In the wake of Enda Kenny's proposal to abolish the Seanad and rumours that FF will hold a referendum on same in conjunction with the general election, it has become unfashionable to support the upper house, but I am firmly of the opinion that with fundamental reform, the chamber can still play a vital role in Irish politics. My proposal would be that each county would have equal representation of two members in the Seanad, giving 52 members in all, on the basis as the US system, voted on by universal suffrage. If the complaint was made by councillors of a distance from local government, heads of reformed regional governments could serve as ex officio members, but only once reforms became enacted.

A unicameral legislature would increasingly lead to diktat by Government, and therefore by Cabinet, with independent scrutineers and the checks and balances provided by nonpartisan members increasingly lost. Sometimes, the national interest must come before public demands.
See the sentence I have boldfaced and help me understand where on earth you got such a notion.:rolleyes:

Sweden and Finland have unicameral parliaments - in common with several other European countries - and they are both vastly better governed and more economically and societally successful than Ireland. The checks and balances that you mentioned are there and work well. I suggest you inform yourself better about how those parliaments are organised. I am very familiar with the Finnish system, especially its committee structure, and the last thing I would wish on this or any country is to saddle it with a pointless talking shop and dumping ground for failed TDs, not to mention appointees like the political rent boy Yawn Harris.:mad:

There is only one solution to the problem of the Seanad - chuck it on the scrapheap, write a new Constitution to replace the present cross between a political manifesto and a religious tract and reform the Dail.petunia
 

Finbar10

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See the sentence I have boldfaced and help me understand where on earth you got such a notion.:rolleyes:

Sweden and Finland have unicameral parliaments - in common with several other European countries - and they are both vastly better governed and more economically and societally successful than Ireland. The checks and balances that you mentioned are there and work well. I suggest you inform yourself better about how those parliaments are organised. I am very familiar with the Finnish system, especially its committee structure, and the last thing I would wish on this or any country is to saddle it with a pointless talking shop and dumping ground for failed TDs, not to mention appointees like the political rent boy Yawn Harris.:mad:

There is only one solution to the problem of the Seanad - chuck it on the scrapheap, write a new Constitution to replace the present cross between a political manifesto and a religious tract and reform the Dail.petunia
I am pessimistic. I don't believe we'll ever get significant Dáil reform. Maybe a re-jigging and strengthening of the committee system, but that's about it. We don't have a healthy political culture like the Scandinavians. Don't think tinkering with the committee system is going to make a big difference. And the Dáil turkeys aren't going to vote for Christmas, certainly no major change in the present PR constituency setup. Reform of the Seanad is about the only major reform we've likely to get. After major political reform of the the Dáil and other structures maybe it would be ok to abolish it. But it would be pathetic if the only major reform we get is the abolition of the Seanad. A more powerful directly elected second chamber would be preferable IMO.
 

TradCat

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Finbar10

And the Dáil turkeys aren't going to vote for Christmas, certainly no major change in the present PR constituency setup. Reform of the Seanad is about the only major reform we've likely to get.
But the Dail will never cede real power to the Seanad. There may well be reform but it will be meaningless. TDs like the Seanad the way it is. A place to go when you lose your seat.
 

Neilob

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In the wake of Enda Kenny's proposal to abolish the Seanad and rumours that FF will hold a referendum on same in conjunction with the general election, it has become unfashionable to support the upper house, but I am firmly of the opinion that with fundamental reform, the chamber can still play a vital role in Irish politics. My proposal would be that each county would have equal representation of two members in the Seanad, giving 52 members in all, on the basis as the US system, voted on by universal suffrage. If the complaint was made by councillors of a distance from local government, heads of reformed regional governments could serve as ex officio members, but only once reforms became enacted.

A unicameral legislature would increasingly lead to diktat by Government, and therefore by Cabinet, with independent scrutineers and the checks and balances provided by nonpartisan members increasingly lost. Sometimes, the national interest must come before public demands.

This is timely indeed because I wrote to Richard Bruton about this during the week and he was kind enough to reply to me. Here is my reply to his email:-

Hi Richard,



I had a quick look at your blog, and your identification of the historical origins of the Free State Senate and its successor are absolutely correct. However my point is that an outright abolition of the upper house, without first considering a basis for Senate reform, is a mistake and unduly hasty. However we’ll see how it pans out when brought to the people.



I sent a follow up email to Vincent Gribbin yesterday which critiqued your New Politics Document. In itself this document is very well thought out but I have some concerns, particularly the vagueness surrounding the Citizen’s Assembly and local government reform. I am attaching my email here. You can read it if you wish and comment on it, but I do realise that you are busy.



Frankly I don’t object with the abolition of the Senate and downsizing of the Dail per se, however my concern is that Deputies will have even less time for legislating with a slimmer Oireactas, particularly if you are all still concentrating on local issues. You are all elected to be pro-active rather than re-active legislators and the rot in Irish politics has been caused by the weakness of the legislature and, quite frankly, a poor quality of public representative. To this is compounded the over arching grip of the executive over the legislature and government is simply not held to account in the Oireactas. In particular this last flaw in our system has been grossly abused and exploited by the outgoing Government.



I worry that without real reform of local Government, Dail and Seanad reform are futile. In order to be effective local Government councils need to be consolidated into larger units and have real powers delegated to them by the Central executive. Local administration also needs to be accountable and sub-ordinate to the democratically elected Councils, not the other way around – it’s time to end the dictatorship of the County Manager.



Your document’s proposals in regard to local government reform are too vague to inspire me with any confidence, and it is in this sphere that reform is most needed. If people have a credible alternative to Dail Deputies at local level, and can petition a local assemblyman for their problems, then you immediately eliminate clientalism at national level and you chaps can get on with legislating. As things TDs have been reduced to the status of local councillors constantly worrying about the next election and how you are perceived in the constituency. This anxiety will surely survive even the most rigorous local government reform unless you introduce in tandem a reform of the electoral system. A majority list system for Dail elections will divorce personalities from constituencies. National elections should be a 5 year referendum on the policy of political parties and not based on favours done. The Tammy Hall approach has landed us with years of dreadful Fianna Fail Government and made our democracy more like Mexico City than Berlin.



Unless the balance between executive and legislature is retipped, and local politics taken out of national politics, then downsizing is not a credible proposal in and of itself; and it is merely populist.
 

Neilob

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I also wrote to the Fine Gael Office giving a critique of their New Politics document. As follows:-

Hi Vincent,



I have read briefly through the document and it is pretty impressively well thought through, but it also pretty vague on detail in many respects. I also think your proposals have been very under publicised. You don’t have much choices open to you in the financial sphere for the lifetime of the next government, but you do have the chance to make a real impact on constitutional reform, and your ideas, such as they are, are to be welcome.



I haven’t time to read it through other than a momentary glance, but perhaps I can make a few remarks. Firstly can I ask how the Citizens Assembly will be appointed? Will this be an elected body, like a Constituent Assembly, or will it be a fully appointed body at the gift of the Taoiseach, and stuffed full of the usual shirts, rather like an RTE drama? I don’t mean to be smart, but if you want to engage with the people you need to elect citizens to a citizen’s assembly and accept its recommendations whether they are palatable or not.



Your proposals on open government are welcome but do you intend that Cabinet confidentiality in the 17th Amendment will remain unbreachable and absolute. In Canada they are considering reviewing this as part of their commitment to open Government, and a statutory amendment is proposed to grant the Information Commissioner a limited right of review of the Cabinet confidence exclusion. This should be considered here. Secrets are bad and wouldn’t we all like to know what happened on a cold September night two years ago.



Your proposals in regard to Empowering the Citizen are waffley and I don’t see any specifics for reforming local Government and/or consolidating County Councils into larger more effective units other than a rather nebulous phrase ‘stronger, more accountable Local Government’. What does this mean?



Why not be radical and look to create new provincial assemblies or Cantons with executive ministries with the delegated powers. The Ministries of Health, Education, Social Welfare, Transport, Tourism, Planning and Enviroment etc could all be delegated, and more important Ministries like Finance, Defence, Foreign Affairs and indeed, Local Government, retained to central Government. In one swoop you can reduce TDs and Councillors, and National Deputies can be free of local issues and get on with legislating.



“The institution of the President has performed well and we do not envisage major changes in the Office’s powers” What a load of nonsense. The presidency is a useless and expensive office and in recent years has been occupied by Lovies. This ‘pushing out the boundaries of the Office’ business by lighting a candle was just a load of tosh. De Valera believed we didn’t need a Governor General and the GG was stuffed away in a private house from 1932 until December 1936 and his only function was to sign bills into law. Why therefore do we need this office if the President only signs a bill into law on demand? Sure s/he can refer it to the Supreme Court after consultation with the Council of State, but is this really a power? Yes, it is to an extent, but the President’s powers should be extended not so much to veto but more towards reservation. It would be far more effective and democratic for the President to reserve a Bill and send it back to the Oireactas for further consideration. Then s/he could refer it to the Courts if the Oireactas resisted amendment. It’s a small procedural matter, but more democratic and I am not a fan of judicial review or activism.



The President’s powers in relation to a refusal to grant a dissolution need’s to be clarified. A precedent was set during the Rainbow Government but it should be clarified beyond doubt that the President is not obliged to act on the Taoiseach’s advice. The President should also be allowed to veto Ministerial appointments, but give reasons for this to the Oireactas, and be obliged to accept a nomination after a further resolution of the Dail. We might have been spared Ray Bourke if the President had the right to object to the character of a Minister.



The President should also attend the Oireactas at the beginning of each Parliamentary term to outline the Government’s legislative proposals. It might seem archaic, but it sets a tight deadline for Parliament and legislative progress can be assessed and observed in public.



I don’t see any point in reducing the President’s term of Office. Presidential elections, without doubt, are the most dreary and uninteresting hustings there is, and it’s bad enough that we have to size up every crackpot has been at seven year intervals, let alone five.



Your proposal for a reform of the Courts is pretty anodine, but helpful. A Court of Civil appeal is a good idea in itself, however the problem with the Courts is access and delay. Cost for vindicating your rights is out of control so it would be far better to delegate more powers to the courts of limited jurisdiction. It’s cheaper to litigate in the District and Circuit Courts than employ an SC in the Higher Courts.



Perhaps you should consider a special Constitutional Court as well. This would hurry up constitutional applications. The bar of locus standi in this Court should be set high because we have too many people in this country getting away with roguery because of inordinate delay in hearing cases, which can go on for years.



You state ‘In Europe, Ireland is the only small, unitary State with a Second House’. Why do we have to be a unitary State? As I say why not delegate local issues to local people? Why not empower people in their provinces to make their own decisions rather than being alienated by Government in Dublin? In a federal or canton system you have to have a second House. If this House is elected at mid terms, the Government will rarely have a majority in the Upper House. There’s nothing wrong with the Senate becoming dominated by political parties – that’s democracy – what’s wrong with it??? The Senate should be directly elected and if a Government doesn’t command a majority in the Upper House then so what: it will have to work hard to pass its legislation. You effectively check the slavish whip system and you get better quality legislation. For instance the United States Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles for many reasons, but one reason was that they did not wish to participate in the League of Nations. The Senate reflected the isolationist will of the people. It might not be a great example but it does show how an upper house can check an executive taking a solo run.



Your section on TDs having a central role in preparing and scrutinising legislation is aspirational. This power is already there but TDs have failed, even when we have put in place researchers for our Deputies. It’s a recycling of the old system and aspirations are great, but the road to political oblivion is paved with them. I used to hear from the son of one of your front benchers that Deputies can’t go into the Dail because they are doing constituency work – sound familiar? Remove local issues from the national parliament and you can all be in there debating, not in your offices watching it on TV. We elect representatives for the people not security guards.



I applaud your proposals for a strengthened Dail Committee system, particularly the rolling back of Abbeylara. However Committees appointed by the majority Government are pointless. Majority rule will stop committees from investigating something the Government doesn’t like – just like CIE, for instance. I would also propose that Deputies in the lower house would be far better utilised in sitting in permanent session passing legislation, and the upper house should have Senate Hearings with huge powers, like those in the United States. The Senate should also be tasked with reviewing European Directives and Regulations seriously rather than the rather pathetic manner that it is done under the European Union (Scrutiny) Act , 2002.



Let me explore this for a moment. Our statute book is an unmitigated disaster. Despite promises our criminal law hasn’t been consolidated into a code. Our public Acts are unwieldy. Couldn’t Deputies have separate Committees working on consolidating our acts, in conjuction with the Parliamentary Draftsman and Attorney’s Office? This is real and necessary reform and I would suggest would keep TDs busy for years. Why not have an upper house to keep an eye on all sorts of other things, like the following:-



Correcting legislation from the lower house - this is very important - bad legislation is worse than no legislation
A forum for inquiry replacing Tribunals and with powers to apportion penalty subject to judicial review
3. A public forum to evaluate public appointees, including the judiciary - currently there is none outside the dysfunctional Committee system which have majority Government nominees
4. A fully elected house, half elected at mid terms to ensure the Government will never or rarely command a majority in both Houses - keeps the Government on its toes
5. A forum to represent County interest after the putting in place of provincial structures - all federal governments need something to redress imbalances at local level
6. A forum that would be compelled to review the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission and Constitutional Review Group and prepare a constitutional referendum for every election every five years. They could also recommend to the Dail areas for legislative reform based on the LRC recommendations. At the moment these fine reports gather dust


Finally guys, get rid of the whip system – it makes you all look ridiculous when you spout out the same stuff all the time, and when you try to blame the civil service you only look pathetic. The whip belongs to the Irish Party of the 1880s. Imagine instead if you had TDs who thought for themselves? Wow what a novelty – and I am not being smart. Imagine also if the Government was to face a defeat in the Dail – should they have to go to the Park – absolutely not. Bad legislation is worse than no legislation, so deputies should be allowed free votes and released from the shackles of the executive. That’s when you get to real reform – and in order to have independently minded politicians they need to be free from clientalism and correspondlingly you need to put the parish pump back in the parish and over haul local government radically (I have always found that phrase slightly ridiculous, but no matter).



If this is what you propose then great, but alas I think I only see old wine in new bottles. But if you are serious about a citizen’s assembly or constituent assembly, and you will agree to have it elected in a proper election, and agree to abide by its recommendations then we’re on to something here. If not, I’m afraid I can only despair and can see little future in Ireland and the emigrant boat seems a much more attractive prospect.



Best,



Neil
 

Finbar10

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Finbar10



But the Dail will never cede real power to the Seanad. There may well be reform but it will be meaningless. TDs like the Seanad the way it is. A place to go when you lose your seat.

That's probably true unfortunately. It needs some measure of power, some ability to block bills to be really meaningful. Maybe, as a sweetner, TDs could elect most of the first reconstructed Seanad. And presumably the new Seanad would only come into existence after the current Dáil/Seanad would dissolve. So a fully directly elected Dail could still be up to 2 terms into the future. But it's hard to see the Dáil ceding power to the Seanad. But perhaps that's still more likely than the Dáil actually reforming itself.
 

Roll_On

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you propose giving Leitrim the same number of senators as Dublin? Give me a break. What we need is to abolish the senate, abolish all the lord mayors, Get rid of all 34 councils and replace them with 9 or 10 regional authorities with directly elected Mayors/Governers, what ever you want to call them. Reduce the number of TDs. Merge CIE with the RPA.
 

Neilob

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you propose giving Leitrim the same number of senators as Dublin? Give me a break. What we need is to abolish the senate, abolish all the lord mayors, Get rid of all 34 councils and replace them with 9 or 10 regional authorities with directly elected Mayors/Governers, what ever you want to call them. Reduce the number of TDs. Merge CIE with the RPA.

Absolutely, Alaska has the same number of senate representatives as New York: that's pure deomcracy at work - everybody and every State is equal. Not so in Ireland: Galway City, the 4th largest city in the Republic, does not have a decent ring road, whereas Waterford, a far smaller place, has an excellent road network. As thing stand it all comes down to whoever has their paws on the treats to the dispersed, perhaps if there was influence in the Legislature Ministers could be checked from feathering their own nests.

It is a good idea to reduce the number of local authorities, but 10 is way to many. In order to be effective and accountable assemblies, close to their electorate. the number needs to be kept small, perhaps no more than 4, and maybe 2 or 3 super councils for larger urban centres. To these assemblies can be delegated all executive powers that touch on regions. For instance the Ministries of Health, Education, Environment, Transport and Tourism could all be broken up and completely delegated to the regional authorities, who would elect their own Executive. Our national Deputies could get on with proactively reforming our hopelessly outmoded Statute Book and the Senate could be charged with inquiring into corruption at all levels of Society, supervising the regional assemblies, correcting legislation from the lower house and approving or vetoing appointees to all Government agencies and the Judiciary.


A list system for national elections would also remove personalities from politics. Elections should be referenda on party policy and not based on personality. This would also cut the strings of national politics and local politics. You could reduce the Dail to 100, loosing the expense of 66 Deputies, and the number of Senators from 60 to 52, loosing 8. Taking Limerick County Council as an example, there are 28 members on the Council. This probably means that we have around 952 Councillors in Ireland, excluding town Councils. A maximum of 6 local and urban assemblies could have a maximum of 150 Deputies each, this way the number of local politicians would be reduced by 52 at least. Granted you would have the expense of 6 different exectuives, but would it not be a unique opportunity to set down salary scales of our politicians and keep them within limited?

You could still continue to have small local councils, which could continue in much the same way as heretofore, but they would have no administrative machinery and there should be no, or very small, expenses given to the elected members. These small Councils could link into the regional Assemblies in some way to ensure the local voice continued to be heard.

My scheme is cheap, it reduces the number of politicians at national and local level in one felt swoop. It also provides the basis for a complete overhaul of the public service, which would have to be completely broken up and reformed to reflect the new institutions. This could only be for the better and there is a precedent for it in the Fisher Commission of 1918 which reformed the old Dublin Castle Government for an independent Ireland, why not take independence a step further and delegate power away from the centre. You would have better regional balance and a more fair society.
 
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Finbar10

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Just spotted in today's Independent that Fianna Fáil may now be jumping on the "abolish the Seanad" bandwagon. According to Fionnán Sheahan ministers talked about holding a referendum on this on the same day as the General Election. Presumably a political manoeuver to take the wind out of Enda Kenny's political reform sails. Again very dissappointing if this is all that would be proposed. But if they could come up with some decent Dáil reforms at the same time could be interesting. I suppose Fianna Fáil have nothing to lose at this stage. And as the article says might be a final shot at some political reform from the Greens. I'm sure both will receive a kicking in the election. But could be an interesting final throw of the dice from them if they came up with decent proposals (not just some pointless "abolish the seanad" stunt).
 


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