Seanad debates

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Seanad Reform: Motion (Resumed)


4:00 pm

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)

Thank you. This means that we go back to the Government with a united House, a united voice and with united recommendations.

There is a voice missing here today, which is that of my colleague and friend, the former Senator Joe O'Toole. I was always the radical and always wanted the clean sweep. Joe O'Toole always had a wise voice and I think we should revisit his proposals, because they not only strengthened the nominating bodies and enfranchised them, they also included some element of experience and some element of the parties, which is perhaps something that should be examined.

Tributes have often been paid to the Independent groups. We have a luxury of being independent and being able to speak our mind, and not being subject to the Whip. That gives us a special advantage and sometimes we get praise that might have gone to Members in the political parties had they that freedom. My suggestion is that we should look again at the nominating bodies, make sure they are the most relevant so that they cover the entire population of the country and that we then do what is necessary and enfranchise the ordinary members in some form. Let us have the nurses, the doctors, the architects, the prison officers and representatives of all other large groups in society and let them talk from their experience of legislation. This is what makes us different.

We do not need a reduplication of the Dáil. If it is only the Dáil "light", then we should get rid of it. We should either scrap it or reform it. If we do these things, then we have a good chance of persuading the Taoiseach to change his mind, as he surely would not have nominated such an extraordinary group of passengers to the Titanic.

We should invite distinguished people from Ireland into the House, so that we can learn from them and they can learn from us. I would like to see the representatives of the ECB and the IMF in here and I would like to hear what they have to say and how they will explain themselves to the people. We are not being governed from either House, but from financial institutions that are undemocratic and which were never voted in. I would like to take the opportunity, with the greatest courtesy, to try to transmit to the German people the message that we are rescuing their banks. Money is coming in from these institutions and going straight back out to save German and other banks who took a punt on our property bubble, which is why our public services, our special needs assistants, our hospitals and our schools are suffering. We all need to communicate in a polite and diplomatic way. A revitalised Senate can do that.


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