Debates in the Oireachtas

O’Murhcú calls for retention of the Seanad The more he speaks to the general public, the more it seems that people are questioning the motive behind the proposal to abolish the Seanad, Cashel Fianna Senator Labhrás O’Murchú told the Upper House. Perhaps, he said the upcoming referendum - now confirmed for the Autumn - will have a surprising outcome.

O’Murhcú calls for retention of the Seanad

The more he speaks to the general public, the more it seems that people are questioning the motive behind the proposal to abolish the Seanad, Cashel Fianna Senator Labhrás O’Murchú told the Upper House. Perhaps, he said the upcoming referendum - now confirmed for the Autumn - will have a surprising outcome.

“It is clear from the results of recent referendums that these measures never happen precisely as the Government expects,” he said. “I may be an eternal optimist, but I am not convinced that a referendum to abolish the Seanad would be successful. The people will distrust the motives behind it. They will realise that it is a negation of democracy. It will become clear that if the referendum is passed, we will be dealing with an over-centralised concept of government which has never served the country well and never will.”

Senator O’Murchú said he hoped somebody in the halls of power will look at the transcript of the debate and realises this might not be as straightforward as they think.

“We will have an opportunity to retain the Seanad, even if a black and white “Yes” or “No” question is put to the people, not because we want to save our own positions but for the good of the country,” he said. “If Members from all parties consider the manner in which this has been presented, there is a good possibility that the Seanad can be saved. Even in the midst of the challenges of the recession, we should not lose this opportunity to do what is right for the country, as opposed to what is right for a party, power or personal ambition.”

He paid tribute to Senator John Crown for giving the House a chance to do what is needed in the interests of ordinary people.

“He has made a major contribution to the House since he came here,” he said. “He does not have to be here, but he has seen the potential of the House. For heaven’s sake, we must not lose this opportunity to be independent-minded and do what is correct.”

Hayes invites public submission on abuse of social media

Members of the public have been invited by the Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications, Deputy Tom Hayes, to make submissions on how the irresponsible use of social media channels might be curbed.

Opening a special four-day hearing of the Committee, Deputy Hayes said the Committee wished to explore how the rights of ordinary citizens can be protected on social media outlets.

“There has been increasing public concern about the nature of some social media commentary,” he said. “These hearings are about protecting the citizens we serve, ensuring that individual rights are maintained and vindicated across social media channels.”

He continued: “We start this consultation with open minds. If we get this right, we will have endeavoured to protect individuals and safeguard the potential of social media from those who seek to subvert it. There is no doubt that social media has immense potential for public good and civic engagement and the Committee simply wants to ensure that it does so without impacting adversely on people’s individual rights. Informed by these public hearings, along with the submissions received from the public, we will prepare a report with practical recommendations to be considered by Government.”

Deputy Hayes said there was no doubt that social media has immense potential for public good and civic engagement and the Committee simply wanted to ensure that it does so without impacting adversely on people’s individual rights.

“We look forward to hearing from social media companies on the safeguards that currently exist on Facebook and Twitter platforms,” he said. “In particular, we wish to explore what systems currently exist for both users and non-users of Facebook and Twitter who feel they have been wronged, to uphold their individual rights through these channels.”