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SYRIZA and Memnosyne Sat Jan 24, 2015 09:09 | Jerome Nikolai Warren
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Seanad Referendum - a camouflaged erosion of Constitutional rights?
The coming referendum on the abolishment of Seanad Éireann would, if passed, remove the existing constitutional right of the President to refer proposed Bills to the people for a referendum. It would pass the initial responsibility of passing Bills into law onto the Dáil alone - a dangerous development, particularly where any ruling party might hold an overall majority.A vote to abolish the Seanad would in fact pass most law making decisions that impact upon the people to the Dáil alone, passing such responsibility to a single parliamentary body, thus removing existing safeguards meant to protect against the introduction of unconstitutional or politically or otherwise motivationally biased law.
Abolition of the Seanad would mean that a single body, the Dáil, will be responsible for passing any new laws through parliament, which must then be signed into law by the President.
However, the existing constitutional right of the President to refer any Bill to the people for referendum will be removed from the Constitution.
With access to justice slowly being priced out of the reach of the ordinary citizen and making individual public legal challenges prohibitively expensive, this is a move that will result in the passing of extraordinary measures of unchecked power to the Dáil.
Although this aspect of the referendum is considered important enough to be detailed in the initial section of the Referendum Commission's public information booklet, it only appears on a secondary page of 'other changes' on the Referendum Commission's website and does not appear in the list of 'Main Changes'. One might wonder why, when this is a move that effectively removes the right of the people to decide on important changes in law that directly affects them.
Perhaps someone may care to comment or throw additional light on this.