Could the Dail learn from the Seanad?

20th March, 2009

Primetime and the Pat Kenny show have each run pieces on whether the Seanad should be abolished. In fairness, both of these shows ran balanced and informative discussions. We got a fair crack of the whip in each debate.

A counter view that I would argue is whether the Seanad could teach the rest of the Oireachtas a thing or two! A number of points come to mind.

The Seanad is considerable less partisan than the Dail. Better debates on important issues occur there. Surely this is what the public are actually looking for at the moment. Secondly, the law changes in response to debates in that House. As I have written here I have been successful in achieving 5 changes myself in the last year. Finally, the plenary sessions are better. More people, of all ranks, contribute. This leads to better debates on topical issues. Occasionally they shift the public discussion.

If the public are looking for non partisan, constructive and informed debate they are more likely to find it in the Seanad. God knows there is an aweful lot that could be improved in it. But there is a lot going well with
it too.