Defend Democracy, Vote No to abolition of Seanad

WP call for No vote on senate abolition

The Workers’ Party to oppose Abolition of Seanad


The Workers Party is opposed to the Abolition of the Seanad. We will be campaigning against the government referendum proposing its abolition.


The Workers Party is the only Left party which is opposing this referendum


The essence of our campaign is:

Defend Democracy

Demand Reform

Oppose Seanad Abolition


A single chamber is effectively a power-grab by the cabinet and may indeed in reality be a power grab by the kitchen cabinet within the cabinet.


This referendum is a further serious roll-back of democracy.


Already this government has decimated grass-roots democracy by their cynical abolition of all Town Councils and even some centuries-old city councils like Waterford and Limerick.


The powers of the elected members of County and City Councils have been totally emasculated by the overarching authority of the county managers. These bureaucrats have no democratic mandate but can issue diktats to the elected members.


Powers over vital issues in people’s lives have been handed over to all-powerful Quangos. The disastrous HSE is a case in point. The National Roads Authority and Irish Water all spend billions of taxpayers’ money but are never accountable to the people.


The democratic deficit in the EU, which indeed has been officially recognised, has become much more pronounced over the last few years following the adoption of the Lisbon and Austerity Treaties.


Even the cabinet has now been largely by-passed as the kitchen-cabinet of four now control all government decisions.


We cannot afford to lose any further part of our democracy – even if at present it is not functioning to its potential.


The Workers Party therefore demands basic reform of the Seanad.


  • The Seanad should be elected by universal suffrage.
  • The Seanad should be elected on the same day as the Dáil so as to prevent its abuse by failed Dáil candidates.
  • There should be no Taoiseach nominees or no seats elected by councillors/TDs.
  • The Seanad should have primary responsibility to examine all EU laws and regulations as promised by the government in the Lisbon Treaty.
  • The Seanad should offer a democratic voice to our emigrants and to the people of Northern Ireland


We ask a very simple question: Why are the government, their apologists, and other pro-abolition parties so afraid of reform? Are they afraid a reformed Seanad might actually work?  Is the government afraid that a democratic and working Seanad would truly shine a light on government proposals and would inform the citizens of this state of all new EU rules and regulations.


 We reject the cynicism and opportunistic populism that is driving this government campaign.


The government has deliberately set the date of the referendum as early as possible in order to keep the debate time as short as possible so as to prevent the real issues and the real alternatives being aired in public.


The government has deliberately set the date for the referendum 10 days before Budget 2014 so that the odium from that budget will not be attached to the referendum.

The government believes there is an anti-politics sentiment amongst the population which can be manipulated to get this measure passed.


The Workers Party believes that the citizens of this state will easily recognise this type of political opportunism and government spin and will show their abhorrence on October 4th.


The Workers Party rejects the government’s cynical attacks on the Seanad as a so-called “waste of public money”. If Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore want to identify “waste of public money” we would suggest they look a lot closer to home. How many billions have been wasted by this government paying bank bond-holders, in subsidies to private landlords, in the ongoing Children’s Hospital fiasco?  We repeat that democracy is a very precious commodity and can not be extinguished at the whim of government on the dictates of the Troika.


Fine Gael posters very clearly identify a possible saving of €20 million from the Seanad abolition. If this government, instead of driving 85,000 people out of this state each year got a mere 2,000 off the dole into real work then they would save €20 million and give meaning and dignity to 2,000 families.


The government state that this referendum is the fulfilment of a pre-election promise. W would also suggest to this cabinet that if they are so anxious to fulfil election promises then perhaps they could start with employment, with the mortgage crisis, with the health service.


The government is introducing this referendum despite the fact that there is no popular demand for this measure. On the other hand the government refused to go to the people with issues which have popular support e.g. repudiate the bank debt or liberalisation of the abortion laws to include cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormalities.


The present Seanad is a limited and elitist body. Yet it has had a positive affect on our legislature, on our civil liberties, and on our democracy. Crucially it presently cannot amend any Money Bill which fatally undermined its ability to halt the financial madness of the Celtic Tiger years.


The Workers Party is campaigning for a reformed Seanad that can strengthen and enhance democratic debate and proper scrutiny in this country.


We cannot afford a repeat of the last decade where a deluded Taoiseach led the Dáil, and consequently the country, into the delusional Celtic Tiger era and on to the bursting of the bubble in 2008, with its dire consequences for this and future generations.


Reject this opportunistic and anti-democratic proposal and give the government a clear message that it is the people who are sovereign.


Issued Monday, 9th September 2013

Peace, Work, Democracy & Class Politics