No Vote urged in “Power Grab” Referendum

Vice-President of Fianna Fáil, Tipperary’s Arthur Griffin, has urged the people of Tipperary to vote No in the forthcoming Seanad referendum which he has described as “an attempted power grab by a government afraid of debate.” Mr Griffin made the comments following the launch of the Fianna Fáil Seanad No Campaign.

Speaking following the launch Mr Griffin commented, “The Seanad is an important part of our constitution and a reformed Seanad can play a vital role in renewing the political system in Ireland. It is vital that we protect our political system against the constitutional vandalism that the government are proposing. The Seanad is proving to be a thorn in the side of the government by introducing hundreds of amendments to government legislation. If it is reformed in the manner which Fianna Fáil and many independents are proposing, then it can be really effective as a balance in parliament.”

Mr Griffin warned against the dangers of abolition, saying that the removal of the Senate will give too many powers to cabinet.

“There are many pit-falls to removing the Senate, for instance if the Senate were to go then the government could remove a judge from office quite easily and thus threatens the independence of the judiciary.

“The government is refusing to debate bills and have used the ‘guillotine’ procedure to end debate on legislation more times than any other government in history. The property tax and the Seanad Abolition bill were both rushed through without full debate. If the government gets away with this power grab there will be very little debate to hold them to account for the promises they have broken”

Mr Griffin also criticised the government’s campaign, and stated that the Fine Gael party were attempting to simplify matters while failing to understand that their efforts to abolish the Senate do not amount to the type of meaningful political reform that the people expect.

“Fine Gael have erected posters that try to bring politics to a base level. If they really wanted to see ‘less politicians’ as they claim then they could’ve proposed a reduction in the number of seats in both houses. Furthermore their claims of savings of 20 million are wildly exaggerated as has been pointed out by the Clerk of the Dáil and admitted to by their own TD, Deputy JP Phelan.”

“The Irish people can see through the populist rhetoric. At the last election people voted for substantial political reform, and the government has failed to deliver. They are now being presented with an ill thought out plan to abolish the Seanad, which will not solve the problem of government having too much power but rather it will add to it.

Mr Griffin was also critical of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s outright refusal to participate in a televised debate with Micheál Martin.

“The failure of the Taoiseach to commit to a debate with the leader of the opposition on this matter is telling in itself. Enda Kenny himself is clearly not in a position to stand over his very own campaign, a clear sign that this referendum is merely a stunt brought to us by this government at the expense of the people.”

As well as being Vice-President of Fianna Fáil, Mr Griffin is Chair of the Party in Tipperary and has committed that the organisation will mount an active campaign in seeking a No Vote.

“We intend to be out canvassing across the county. We have called a public meeting in Thurles for September 20th at which Brian Crowley MEP, Senator Mark Daly and Tipperary’s own Senator Labhras O’Murchu will speak out against abolition. Our message is simple, people need to demand real reform. The government of broken promises must not get away with this power grab” concluded Mr Griffin.

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