Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Seanad Éireann DebatePage of 59
Senator Feargal Quinn: I move:
An Cathaoirleach: Is the Bill opposed?
Senator Maurice Cummins: No.
Senator Feargal Quinn: I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."
An Cathaoirleach: When is it proposed to take Second Stage?
Senator Feargal Quinn: Next Wednesday, 3 July 2013.
An Bille um an Dara Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Deireadh a Chur le Seanad Éireann) 2013: An Dara Céim
An Cathaoirleach: We will now move on to item No. 1 on the Order of Business, the Second Stage debate on the Thirty-second Amendment of the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Éireann) Bill 2013. Item No. 2, motion pursuant to section 23 of the Referendum Act 1994, prescribing a formal statement for the information of voters to be included on the polling card, will be debated in conjunction with Second Stage of the Bill. The motion will be formally moved when debate on the Bill is concluded.
An Cathaoirleach: That is not a point of order. The Order of Business has been agreed.
Senator David Cullinane: Under the Order of Business, not one Sinn Féin Senator will be given the opportunity to ---
An Cathaoirleach: Senator Cullinane, resume your seat please.
Senator David Cullinane: --- to address the Taoiseach on the important issue of Seanad reform and political reform.
An Cathaoirleach: The Senator must resume his seat.
Senator David Cullinane: I think that is wrong and the Taoiseach ---
Senator David Cullinane: The Leader of the House and the Cathaoirleach are wrong in excluding a political party from the opportunity to address the Taoiseach on something as fundamentally important as this.
The purpose of this Bill is to fulfil a programme for Government commitment to hold a referendum on the abolition of the Seanad in the autumn. The Government also intends to hold a referendum on the establishment of a court of civil appeal on the same day and other issues arising from the early reports of the Convention on the Constitution may also be considered.
As this referendum is proposing a major change in the structure of our Oireachtas, it is both right and appropriate that I, as Taoiseach, should come before this House today and outline the reasons for this action. The proposed abolition of the Seanad is part of the Government's comprehensive programme of political reform, a programme that will establish a new politics in this Republic, one that is more accountable, democratic and more responsive. In fact, it will be the biggest package of political reforms since the passing of the Constitution in 1937. No Government would ever propose changing the Constitution lightly. It is our fundamental law and the main blueprint for our system of government and it has served this country well. However, the Constitution is not, and must not ever be, fixed in stone. The ultimate source of sovereignty in our Republic is the people and the people have the right to amend and update their Constitution as they decide, including those articles of the Constitution which define the nature of our country's Oireachtas.
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