The defeat of the proposal to abolish the powerless Seanad House in the recent Referendum in Ireland is a damning indictment of the Irish people.
The Seanad House is the upper house of the Irish parliament. It cannot prevent legislation from Dail Eireann (the main parliament) being enacted and has for decades been used as a way to bail out failed politicians and to reward public figures who supported the Government of the time.
It is not accountable to the Irish electorate with many members of the Seanad either being appointed by University Graduates or directly by the Government of the time. Members of the Seanad enjoy huge financial benefits at the expense of the public and have no real power or function.
It should have been an easy decision therefore, to abolish the Seanad. All of the signs pointed to an easy victory for the abolitionists. An opinion poll just a few days before the vote indicated 62% of those in favour of the proposal and in the few intervening days nothing of any real substance happened. There were no major developments, no game-changing revelations.
How then was the proposal defeated by just under 52% to 48%? What is the reason for a 14 percentage points swing in only a few days when nothing significant occurred?
The answer is both simple and depressing: The Irish people did not vote.
The Constitution of a country is mostly regarded as a sacred thing.
In some countries.
But clearly not in Ireland.
With a turnout of only 39% of the approximately 3.15 Million eligible voters only 1.23 Million voted. Those who won the referendum amounted to 0.63 Million. Just over 623,000 voters decided the fate of the Irish Constitution. The population of Ireland is approximately 4.6 Million.
So where is the disgrace? A lot of people are just not interested in politics. Many are too worried about paying their bills.
By comparison European countries such as Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Germany regularly have huge voter engagement compared to Ireland. Foreign Reporters who visit Ireland look on in amazement at the utter lack of interest shown by the citizens here. The country is on its knees financially and here was a perfect opportunity to save countless millions of euro over the coming years by greatly reducing the number of politicians in that rarest of events – an example of real political reform.
What did the Irish people do?
1. They did not vote.
2. Some of those that did vote used their ballot as a protest against Government policies.
3. Those that stood to gain from the retention of the Seanad enthusiastically campaigned in their own self-interest.
4. Some political parties (Fianna Fail in particular) cynically used the Referendum as an opportunity to give the Government a thumping. More self interest.
The biggest reason though is the first listed above. The Irish people have long since lost any right to complain or protest. You get the Government you vote for and the life you settle for. If you are not wiling to vote then you have lost any right to complain. You need to shut up.
Those pictures of lottery winners that regularly adorn the tabloid newspapers could today easily be replicated with pictures of the Seanad members after the Referendum votes were counted. They Have won the lottery and at our expense.
What do the Irish people do?
They sit in their bars drinking their pints, watching the football.
They moan and grumble about the latest round of austerity taxation.
They drink their bottles of wine while watching their soap operas on television.
While the well-heeled elite from the Universities and professional classes laugh at them for their ignorance and stupidity (and then count up the allowances and pensions they can parasitically squeeze from our system of Government) the Irish…… down another pint. And complain.
The upcoming 1916 anniversary of the Easter Rising should be cancelled immediately. The Republic for which those men and women fought is dead.
There are countries in this world that are today fighting and suffering to get the freedom and democracy we Irish so take for granted.
We are a disgrace.