25 September 2003 Edition
At the moment an Oireachtas Sub-Committee is discussing the issue of Seanad reform. However, this process will be meaningless if the outcome, which will ultimately be decided upon by the main establishment parties, is to continue to deny the vast majority of Irish citizens the right to decide who is elected to sit in this chamber.
At the moment, the Seanad is an Irish version of the House of Lords - a very expensive retirement home and talking shop for failed politicians and 'want to be' TDs looking to heighten their profile at taxpayers' expense. It is elitist and undemocratic, is totally unrepresentative of the public and has no place in a democratic society.
Considering the colossal amount of taxpayers' money that is squandered on maintaining this institution and paying enormous salaries and expenses to Senators, there are only two options open to the government if they are serious about Seanad reform. They can either abolish it and operate like a lot of other countries do, with just one House of Parliament, or they can democratise it.
This means ending the system by which the Taoiseach (or anyone else) appoints Senators. It means giving every Irish citizen, North and South as well as our emigrants who were forced to leave our shores by the economic mismanagement of successive Governments, an equal vote in PR elections for the Seanad.
The current system of only allowing a small section of our society to vote is insulting, suggesting that the vast majority of us are not intelligent enough to elect the 'right' people to the Seanad. Every citizen's vote should be equal. The days of some people being 'more equal than others' (to borrow a phrase from Orwell's Animal Farm) should be consigned to the dustbin of history.
Cllr Arthur Gibbons
Sligo Borough Council