The Irish Seanad, the upper house of the Irish Parliament, last night voted to allow a referendum on its continued existence to be held. Its not exactly turkeys voting for christmas, more turkeys voting to allow people decide if there should be christmas. There is an argument that is is more about power grabs than saving money
Abolishing the Seanad has many attractions to many people, not least ‘sticking it to the politicians’. It has many downsides also. I didn’t realize until this morning of a consequence of which I and I suspect many were unaware. (H/T Kealan Flynn)
Article 27 Section 1 of the Constitution states
A majority of the members of Seanad Éireann and not less than one-third of the members of Dáil Éireann may by a joint petition addressed to the President by them under this Article request the President to decline to sign and promulgate as a law any Bill to which this article applies on the ground that the Bill contains a proposal of such national importance that the will of the people thereon ought to be ascertained.
Therefore, abolishing the Seanad has the consequence that there will be NO check on the parliament other than the President deciding on their own behalf to refer a bill to the Supreme Court. A27-1 has never been used. That doesn’t mean that its not useful to have. A properly representative and reformed upper house might have decided that one of the bills around the bank guarantee and recapitalisation might be worth getting the views of the people on, as an example.
As it is we have the Economic Management Council, the Gang of 4, dominate the cabinet, which in turn dominates the government which in its turn renders the Dail, the lower house, a rubber stamp.
We arguably need better oversight. We have a mechanism that in theory can be used. Im not sure that its wise to throw this out.