Deputy Martin commented, “A full 18 months following our last meeting on the issue, the Taoiseach arrived at last night’s meeting with no real plan on what to do about reforming the Seanad. Instead, it quickly became clear that what we were involved in was a straightforward box ticking exercise.
“The Manning Report is the conclusion of a significant volume of work, conducted by individuals acting in good faith and contains some properly radical proposals for reform. Approaching the meeting, it was Fianna Fáil’s expectation that we would be engaging on the real substance of these proposals, but that was not the case.“Indeed, Labour Party Minister Alex White who attended the meeting was particularly keen to emphasise that not only is there no legislation being prepared to implement any of the radical changes within the Manning Report, but that the Government has not even considered the report.
“Listening to Former Senator Joe O’Toole on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, it appears that different commitments have been given at different meetings attended by the Taoiseach. Mr O’Toole talked about the Taoiseach telling him and his colleagues on the Seanad Working Group that he ‘was up for it’ in terms of implementing his group’s recommendations.
“However, it was absolutely clear to Fianna Fáil at last evening’s meeting that the only commitment emerging from the Government is to hold a Dáil debate on the report at some stage after the summer recess and to look at bringing forward legislation after that.“In real terms, it is very difficult to believe that there will be anything more than that debate in the lifetime of this Government. After a referendum on the Seanad, significant public debate on the issue and the very hard work of the Working Group on Seanad Reform over the course of more than a year, the Government’s absolute failure to advance the issue is deeply disappointing and represents yet another opportunity lost.”