Thursday, 7 November 2019
Report of the Seanad Reform Implementation Group: Statements
John Paul Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
I agree. However, the report's authors proceed to outline why they think there is not a hope of that happening, which is completely contradictory, but there are many contradictions in the debate.
Deputy Cullinane stated that I do not accept the report. There are chunks of it that I accept, including the need to implement the 1979 referendum result. I certainly accept the provisions of the Manning report and those in this report which suggest that the Seanad can reform the way it conducts its own business. Deputy Cullinane and, to an extent, Deputy Broughan expressed the view that if the Seanad is to continue, it must be through constitutional referendum rather than on the basis of the current parameters. I am not totally opposed to the vocational panel system, but it was representative of a time in the 1930s when those types of structures were more popular than they have proven to be subsequently.
I point out to Deputy Jan O'Sullivan that the implementation group's report specifies near the end that no reform should take place before the next Seanad election. I want to see reform happen. My commitment was to come to both Houses of the Oireachtas to discuss the report and to report to Government. I hope to do that before the end of the year. The Government will then make its decision as to how to proceed on the issue of reform of Seanad Éireann.
I again thank the Deputies who contributed to the debate.