Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to desist from comparing Ireland to other countries of equivalent size, and governed by a one house/unicameral system.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after challenging Mr Kenny to come clean about the ‘utterly disingenuous’ comparisons he has made as part of his campaign to abolish the Seanad.
The Taoiseach has consistently used the example of some of the Scandinavian countries as jurisdictions where democracy has thrived despite having only one house of Parliament, said Deputy McGrath.
“Not only has the Taoiseach continued to defend the claim that €20 million will be saved by the abolition of the Seanad but he has also persisted in the utterly false claim that we can manage just as well as Denmark, for example, in terms of governance by the Dáil alone. What the Taoiseach is rather conveniently forgetting to tell the Irish people is that Denmark which is a country of equivalent size as our own also has a vibrant and robust democratically accountable local authority structure.
“We on the other hand are witnessing the complete dismantling of town councils across the country and a decimation of local democratic institutions,” he said.
The debate to abolish the Seanad has also raised concerns among many observers that this will further diminish the sovereignty of the State, according to Deputy McGrath, and will put Ireland more firmly under greater EU control in the future.
“The abolition of the Seanad will contribute in a clear and unambiguous way to the much needed scrutiny of EU legislation. As a House of the Oireachtas, under the provisions of Article 29 of the Constitution, as recently amended, the Seanad must give “prior approval” to EU proposals for enhanced cooperation, and the “opt out” of Ireland in respect of EU measures on freedom, security and justice, including the ending of that opt out.
“All of these functions will obviously cease to exist if the Seanad is abolished and yet they are functions which we simply cannot allow to solely reside in the Dáil. This is an aspect of the debate that has yet to receive much attention since the Government believes it can distract the people by trotting out the levels of savings we can achieve in a bid to avoid analysis of the real issues at stake,” said Deputy McGrath.