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Abolishing the Seanad

Seanad Election

There are many things wrong with Irish political and judicial institutions. We at McGarr Solicitors do not think that those serious defects should be ignored or that the electorate should be distracted from them by the campaign to abolish the Seanad.

Our administration structures are in the form they now take because the Irish Constitution says so. For a number of reasons, those structures are not properly functioning.

What is wrong with Irish political and judicial institutions?

The Executive (Ministers and Junior Ministers), with the help of the Civil Service, which they at least nominally control, has suborned all other elements of the administration. This has undermined the Constitution and hollowed out its intended purpose, to bring balanced Government and secure civil rights to the people of Ireland.

What Ireland needs is to establish mechanisms to achieve the purposes of the Constitution, not to abandon those purposes.

The proposal to abolish the Seanad is not just a mistaken remedy for a minor illness symptom, it is a proposal to use major surgery to remedy that symptom. The remaining parts of Government, even the Constitutional rights of citizens, are threatened by this proposal and the proposal ignores the real illness or problem.

There has never been, since the Constitution was adopted in 1937, an effort to make a greater change to the Irish Constitution than this proposal to abolish the Seanad.

It will have an early and lasting effect on the ordinary lives of Irish citizens. Things that citizens take for granted, like the right to be vindicated in their bodily integrity, will be vulnerable to demotion to aspirational status. This right has been under attack from Government for some time despite its being currently secured in the Constitution.

In truth, every Constitutional right will be diluted by the massive change proposed. The law of unintended effects will surely dominate the near future of Ireland, not to mention the Government’s intended effects, which are, principally, to strengthen the Executive.

Strengthening the Executive when it is not accountable to the people and their institutions is the exact opposite of what Ireland needs.