Politics has indeed been reformed, as promised. Well, re-formed anyway. We remember with a shudder Minister you-know Richard you-know Bruton you-know, traipsing the airwaves in support of the referendum proposal to abolish the Seanad. Proudly keeping the FG promise to radically you-know reduce you-know the number of politicians by 30% (so there’d be lesser, or fewer even). Of course 90% of the reduction would be made up of the 60 axed senators. The Dáil chicken involved in the breakfast of reform, the Seanad pig rather committed.
The Constituency Commission had been given a hospital pass in its terms of reference. Whereas Enda had personally suggested demolishing the unfinished estate of the Seanad, and was happy to put it to a referendum, reducing the number of TDs was far too important to be put to the people. And sure, the Constitution says there has to be at least one TD per 20,000. Bingo. Even bango bongo.
So the Commission recommended reducing TD numbers by, wait for it, you-know, 8. From 166 to 158. And half the boundaries in the western world have to be redrawn even for that tiny change. Radical reform indeed. Another promise kept. Tick the box. Universal Healthcare? Mmmm, let’s give cards to red-headed 20-30 yearolds this year, OK? Maybe next year, to people born in March in uneven years. Tick.
Here in God’s own country in Galway West, we will still have 5 TDs, marking each other daily, our own little eternal cold war. Legislating now and again, when they’re let, but potholes always more important than holes in the ozone layer. Every filled pothole five times welcomed.
Enda lied of course. The longest serving member of the Dáil, institutionalised therein to a jaw dropping extent, content to insult the intelligence of the populace with cynical promises.
A referendum to see if we agreed with him that the Seanad should go. A Constituency Commission precluded from suggesting Dáil reforms that would require a referendum.
We need to be more like the Swiss. Lashings of referenda, even referendums. Trust politicians not. Involve the people. Honestly Enda, we don’t mind one bit voting a half dozen times a year on things that matter to us. It’s called democracy. No, I’m not suggesting that FF or SF would be better. It’s just you very specifically promised reform, and a better democracy, and wilfully and cynically did the opposite.