I left this post on Fine Gael TD Pascal Donohoe’s article in today’s Irish Times, which is titled ‘Only political insiders would mourn the passing of the Seanad’
Why do some ruling politicians wish to abolish the Seanad? Is it really on account of democratic reformist zeal that puts the interests of the public before the interests of the political establishment, as Pascal Donohoe suggests?
Sadly, no. The proposal to abolish the Seanad is emanating from a political party that is overseeing the deliberate emaciation of Ireland’s social fabric and public infrastructure.
One of the recurring criticisms about political life in Ireland is the enlightened liberal sneer about people voting for a particular candidate on account of the fact that “he fixed the roads“. But if people do such things, it is because Ireland has never had a public infrastructure worthy of a democratic society. We can see this in the two-tier education and health systems, which privilege private services: the services of the rich work fine and the rest must put up with sub-standard services. And now, we can even see it in the roads, where the ruling party that proposes abolishing the Seanad plans on getting local communities to pay for the upkeep of local roads.
So let’s not fool ourselves that the proposers of this measure are doing so to pay for public hospitals and other public institutions, when they have poured tens of billions into private banks and advocated passing stringent laws on budget deficits that prevent the country from developing a proper public infrastructure.
In fact, they are capitalising on the generalised anti-political climate that has intensified since the economic crisis hit. This climate is down to the commonplace belief that ‘the politicians’ are to blame for everything. Such a belief, promoted by the media, has an element of truth, but serves to obscure the decisive political power held by financial and business elites. Well, it makes perfect sense for the latter’s servants in the political establishment to embark on right-wing populist measures on the one hand whilst destroying the necessary material elements of a democratic society on the other.
The problem is not the quantity of politicians, but the absence of democracy.