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YOU'VE TOLD LIES; VOTE NO TOMORROW; Fine Gael trying to hoodwink public over Seanad, says senator; It's warned Ireland has been 'ordered' to abolish Upper House.

Byline: SARAH BARDON POLITICAL REPORTER

THE people of Ireland have been told lies to try to get them to scrap the Seanad, No vote campaigners claimed last night.

Just hours before we go to the ballot box Senator John Crown said Fine Gael has tried to hoodwink the public over how much money axing the institution will save.

The furious hospital consultant added: "Do you trust them? Fine Gael is systematically lying.

"One of their senators, Tony Mulcahy, has admitted that Fine Gael is lying about the [euro]20million figure [savings the party said will be made every year by axing the Seanad].

"But that is not the critical issue. We desperately need political reform. We are living with the consequences of bad governance over the past 10 to 15 years.

"Our people are dealing with dole queues, foreclosed mortgages, ghost estates, empty hearts and emigration-ravaged homes.

"We correctly blame developers and bankers but there was another constituency that bears responsibility and that is the politicians they acted in self-interest."

Prof Crown said abolishing the Upper House would effectively hand Enda Kenny sole power to rule the Dail. The Independent senator added this was the single biggest reason to keep the Seanad because he said the Taoiseach has kicked people out of his party and of committees simply because they don't agree with him.

Fianna Fail Senator Labhras O Murchu warned the orders have come from outside the country to shut down the Seanad.

He said: "The lid is being kept on it in case it might come out before the referendum. There can be no other answer.

"We are going to be celebrating and commemorating the centenary of the 1916 Rising in a couple of years' time. In the name of God, what will we commemorating and celebrating?

"If the sacrifices were worth anything, it was to give us control of our own destiny as it is enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation. We are not doing that."

The Union of Students in Ireland urged its members to vote No and not to fall for false promises of Dail reform.

President Joe O'Connor said a Yes vote would be conning voters into believing the Government would change its ways. He added: "Failed economic policies, broken promises and parochialism have led to a sense of disillusion with the political system but abolishing the Seanad does nothing to fix our broken democracy. USI believes the Seanad can be and should be reformed as part of a wider reform of our political structures and is calling for a No vote in the upcoming referendum."

Meanwhile, opinion polls show voters are in favour of scrapping the Seanad but opponents insisted the people should be given the option of reform.

The Government has promised to overhaul the way the Dail does its business to ensure legislation is properly scrutinised.

Both sides of the debate made their last-ditch pleas to the public as voters prepare to go to the polls tomorrow to decide the Seanad's fate.

Mr Kenny yesterday urged people to scrap the "ineffective, powerless body" that is "undemocratic" and that doing so will save the taxpayer [euro]20million a year.

He said: "We have had existing attempts from a small number of senators to put forward reforms or proposals for change. That failed.

"This is a straight question - do you want to keep it or do you want to abolish it? My view is that it is not required in a country like ours."

"As a former Tanaiste and a party leader said, it is either a creche or a geriatric home."

Mr Kenny added that as the longest running member of the Dail, he has seen many attempts to change the Seanad come and fail.

Labour Junior Minister Alex White said "the status quo will remain" if the people vote No.

He added: "We will still have a second chamber that is unrepresentative, undemocratic, and unnecessary." Meanwhile, the Government suffered a humiliating defeat in the Senate last night when four Labour senators failed to show up.

The vote was lost 27-23 on a private members' motion proposed by Senator Feargal Quinn dealing with upward-only rent reviews.

The result is a severe embarrassment for the Coalition and Labour in particular.

Had Senators John Kelly, Denis Landy, Jimmy Harte and John Whelan been present the Government would have won the vote with the casting vote Seanad leader, Paddy Burke.

Two former members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, Paul Bradford and Fidelma Healy Eames, voted with the Opposition.

Irish Mirror Comment: Page 10

Abolishing it will do nothing to fix our broken democracy JOE O'CONNOR yesterday

CAPTION(S):

REFORM Senator John Crown

WAITING GAME Alan Shatter and Enda Kenny in Dublin yesterday
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Oct 3, 2013
Words:787
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