Micheal Martin resorts to hyperbole in trying to save the Seanad


The Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin, decided to go for wild exaggeration today in addressing the issue of saving the Seanad, instead of coming up with specific details or arguments.

Speaking at the Liam Lynch commemoration in Fermoy, Co Cork, Martin claimed that if the Seanad is abolished Ireland will be left with a political system which is “uniquely weak in the democratic world.”

To which one can only ask, why exactly? And what does this greatly exaggerated statement of his actually mean?

Martin said that “no other country will have our combination of a dominant government, weak single-chamber parliament and local government with few powers.”

But is this not a gross overstatement of our situation and derogatory to our political culture, where Martin has spent so long? And if he feels this strongly, why hasn’t he spoken up on this before. “No other country” Martin said. So where is he comparing Ireland to? Is it to all the countries of the world?

In a further exaggeration, Martin says that “we do not have a parliament which is expert enough or independent enough. It cannot make sure that our laws and our institutions operate on the basis of good policy and good administration”

But why we would expect that the Seanad would do this? Surely, it’s the Dail then that needs to be strengthened.

Martin then entirely, and perhaps deliberately, misses the point when he says that “if the Seanad referendum is passed, it will mark the end of any chance of there being any real political reform.’ But why?, one asks.  He claims, offering no evidence, that the Government would then ‘hang up the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banners, ramp up the self-congratulatory speeches and confine political reform to the dustbin of history.”

On the contrary, abolishing the Seanad is only the start of a campaign of real political reform and Martin has absolutely no proof that such an abolition would end the process of reform. Instead, an abolition of this antiquated assembly begins it.

Mr Martin claimed that there is ‘not a single person who wants to retain the Seanad as it is currently constituted’, which is basically a complete endorsement of the abolition position, since there is no choice of ‘reform’ on offer.  And especially since he, once again, offers no model for the reformed Senate that he thinks should be created

Martin claimed that “only by voting to retain it can we demand reform.” But it is the very opposite. Only by voting to abolish the Seanad, can we begin the process of proper political reform. It is disappointing then, but perhaps not surprising, that Martin should use the historic opportunity of the Liam Lynch commemoration, to express his uncertain case for saving the Senate in wild exaggerations rather than focus on the facts and on concrete suggestions for the future.

Report on Martin’s speech