Seanad debates

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Seanad Bill 2020: Second Stage


10:30 am

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)

I welcome the Minister of State and congratulate him on his appointment. After 41 years and 14 reports, we still do not have common ground other than it is Groundhog Day and we want Seanad reform. I very much respect Senator McDowell but on his side of the House there is no equality of where to go. There are some people, and not Senator McDowell, who think it is their way or no way in terms of this debate. Therein lies the problem. Senator Byrne has a proposal to amend the seventh amendment. We have been waiting 41 years for action in respect of that amendment.My view is let us reform. Senator McDowell had a survey of graduates where 51.8% of respondents did not want to extend the franchise to those living in the North and abroad. Others are opposed to extending the franchise to graduates of the new colleges in the NUI constituency. Among the political class, there is a view regarding the casting of our county councillors to one side, on one level, while on another level some of us believe there should be a Seanad election on the same day as the Dáil election. There is merit in what Senator Mullen said concerning a list system in his proposal for Seanad reform. The bottom line is that we will not get agreement on what Seanad reform means. For some people reform, as in the Latin word "reformo", means to improve, but is it improvement? There is then the chemical definition of reform, which is meant to be catalytic, but it is pouring petrol on what is happening. There is merit, therefore, in the Government's proposal to have more time because there will not be agreement. I commend Senator McDowell on his perseverance, integrity and professionalism.


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