New group starts campaign to save Seanad

Friday 30 August 2013 19.54
Democracy Matters is calling for the reform of the Seanad, rather than its abolition
Democracy Matters is calling for the reform of the Seanad, rather than its abolition

A new group set up to oppose the abolition of the Seanad in October's referendum has started its campaign.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Democracy Matters Chairman Professor Gary Murphy said the Seanad could and should be reformed.

He said: "We feel that people are being given a false choice, between abolition and the status quo. We feel and we know because it has been written in the Quinn/Zappone Bill, that reform is feasible."

Mr Murphy said he is not defending the Seanad in its current form, which he described as "undemocratic".

Speaking on the same programme, Fine Gael's Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad abolition referendum Regina Doherty said the reform Democracy Matters is advocating for would have no impact on the Seanad's effectiveness.

"The reforms being suggested by Democracy Matters [are to] increase the voting population to allow every citizen in the country have a vote to elect their senators," she said.

"That doesn't affect what the Seanad does or doesn't do.

"That doesn't affect the powers of the Seanad that we believe are so limited and have only been used twice in seven years, thus rendering it very, very ineffective, what we're proposing is huge political reform."