Irish Times: Referendum a ‘defining moment’, says Fianna Fáil leader

Martin cites ‘dishonest’ claims by Coalition


The referendum on the abolition of the Seanad is a “defining moment” for the political future of this country, according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Mr Martin told the annual Liam Lynch commemoration at Kilcrumper cemetery, Fermoy, Co Cork, yesterday that if the Seanad was abolished Ireland would be left with a political system which was “uniquely weak in the democratic world”.

“No other country will have our combination of a dominant government, weak single-chamber parliament and local government with few powers.”

Single person
Mr Martin said there was not a single person who wanted to retain the Seanad as it was currently constituted. However, he claimed that “only by voting to retain it can we demand reform”.

He also cited as “dishonest” claims by the Government that a Yes vote would free up millions for hard-pressed services.

Mr Martin insisted the Government had no interest in reform. “Our political system is broken. Central to this is that we do not have a parliament which is expert enough or independent enough. It cannot make sure that our laws and our institutions operate on the basis of good policy and good administration.”

He stressed the Government has taken repeated steps to concentrate more and more power into the hands of a tiny cabal of Ministers.

Political reform
“If the Seanad referendum is passed it will mark the end of any chance of there being any real political reform.

“The Government will hang up the ‘mission accomplished’ banners, ramp up the self-congratulatory speeches and confine political reform to the dustbin of history.”

In his address the Fianna Fáil leader also dismissed talk of a possible merger with Fine Gael.

He said to suggest to the Irish electorate in the second decade of the 21st century that their votes today were nothing more than the continuation of a 90-year fight was at best “disrespectful”.

He insisted that when Fianna Fáil was at its strongest was when it was true to the very distinct programme on which it was founded.

Mr Martin accused the Government of “growing arrogance and an ongoing betrayal of basic promises”.

“Their only focus was election day and achieving power, which is how you reach a position where TDs are being expelled from Government parties for voting in favour of the policies they fought the election on.

Irish politics
“Speculation about a coming together of the country’s two largest political parties ignores the damage being done to Irish politics by the current record majority in Dáil Éireann.”

Yesterday’s commemoration at Kilcrumper cemetery marked the the 90th anniversary of the death of General Liam Lynch in the Knockmealdown Mountains.

Registration: app for voters
The Referendum Commission has launched a voter registration app on Facebook in an effort to maximise voter registration in advance of the referendums.

The app tells voters how to check to see whether they are on the register, and how to download the forms required if they are not already on the list of those eligible to vote.

Those who find they are not registered or are registered at the wrong address can correct this if they get the forms to their local authority on or before September 17th.

The referendums on the abolition of the Seanad and the establishment of a court of appeal take place on Friday, October 4th.

The commission’s app can be accessed from its Facebook page which is at

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