Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton and economist Colm McCarthy were guest speakers at a public meeting in the Anner Hotel which discussed the merits of abolishing the Seanad.
Deputy Noel Coonan and Junior Minister for Agriculture Tom Hayes addressed the well-attended gathering.
Deputy Coonan said: “The most intelligent people in the country are the electorate and they always make the right decision. I have no doubt they will be right again this time.”
Deputy Coonan outlined his experience in both Houses of the Oireachtas and stressed the urgent need for reform of Dáil Eireann to enable backbench TDs like himself make meaningful contribution on topics as they occur on behalf of their constituents.
Mr McCarthy, who is also author of An Bord Snip Nua, said: “If this referendum is beaten it will be the end of the impetus for change in the political system. This would be disastrous and I intend to vote Yes on October 4. Every €20m helps in our difficult financial situation.
“As part of the expenditure review carried out for An Bord Snip Nua, I was asked to look at all items of Government spending in all Departments and State bodies. The costs of the Houses of the Oireachtas caught our eye and there were subsequent reductions in TD salaries and pensions. The Seanad offers savings in the region of €20m and the Seanad has no role in choosing the Government.”
Minister Bruton said: “The abolition of the Seanad is part of a suite of political changes. Only 1 per cent of the public participate in the election of the Seanad. It is a system based on privilege and patronage and not one based on civil mandate. Their remit is limited. It cannot oversee spending estimates or amend money Bills. These are restricted to the Dáil.
“OF 16 countries in the OECD with a population of under 15 million, only one has a two chamber system and that is Slovenia. There has been a progressive move to one chamber only and this is based on a residue of a past long gone. We believe politics must show it can change and this will reduce the number of politicians by 30 per cent and deliver €20m in savings,” said the Minister.
Junior Minister Hayes stated: “The same issues are discussed in the Seanad as in the Dáil, and there is too much duplication.”