Saturday, June 23, 2007

I must be doing something right

Interesting to see yet more pieces in the national papers on Saturday on the issue of Seanad Reform this time in the Independent from my fellow Kerryman and then from a TCD candidate in the Irish Times. And also on the cover of the Irish edition of the Sunday Times. Yet the mainstream press appears solid in its steely resolve not to allow some upstart who went to UL be the spokesperson for an issue that affects them directly.

After all who do we think we are? Instead why not give an NUI graduate or TCD graduate a platform to say how they feel our pain and hope that we will go away. Well, I won't, the issue won't and we won't. It is an issue that is straightforward to fix and long past time to fix it. And I suspect everyone knows it.

Not that this issue alone would be sufficient to get anyone elected. However, it would seem that at least some of the candidates are twigging that there is a constituency out there who recognise the urgent need to reform the Seanad and are eager to elect someone who is hungry to get cracking on the work involved. Combine this with the growing possibility of the government lacking a working majority in the Seanad and you get a concerted effort from them not to allow someone from outside the government parties get a seat.

Indeed, I had another NUI candidate call me today to emphasis their personal commitment to extending rights to those of us outside the NUI or TCD. I reckon that as more folks are seeing that there is merit in the points I've been making, the more it will start to everyone's agenda.

Misquoting Gandhi, I think we're possibly in the third phase.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then some fight you while others join you, then you win.”

Monday, June 18, 2007

Recycling old promises for Seanad

Interesting how any number of people are claiming how interested they are in Seanad Reform now that we have an election but they were remarkably silent

Take Joe O'Toole who said in 1997 while campaigning for election that "On the canvass, however, he has discovered the depth of resentment among graduates of universities other than the NUI or Trinity who are not entitled to a Seanad vote. "I agree. Why on earth should votes be restricted to these two universities, one established by a queen and the other by a cardinal. If elected I intend proposing changes.""

Doing something would have made sense even his own perspective of looking to protect his seat as primary teaching graduates of Mary Immaculate and St. Patrtick's Drumcondra can no longer vote. Sadly no action has been taken.

Seanad finances

The Independent News and Media folks have updated their site in recent weeks, and as a consequence appear to have upgraded their search engine too which is quite a good thing. For reasons of naked self interest I had a looksee at what turned up from the archives when I typed in “Seanad” and came across a very interesting article about campaign funding for the NUI Seanad race in 2002. I have to say that the €8,867 that Bernadine received in 2002 would have paid for a hell lot of advertising and printing in today’s prices not to mind how much it bought back then. Interesting that she was in effect getting every ASTI member to cough up for her campaign while suggesting she was putting herself on their behalf.

Another more recent article throws up the issue of money and financial backing again but in different context. Ms. Susan Philips says "...But the university Senators - and there are six in total, three from the NUI and three from Trinity - should ideally be absolutely free from pressure groups, party politics or financial obligations.'"

It might be just that I’m coming from a PAYE background with my dad as a council worker in Kerry but I would have thought the salary of a Seanad member (running at €62,000 for a newbie though many more are apparently on much higher sums) should be more than enough to keep them free from "financial obligations" yet it would appear from her comments that Ms. Philips believes that being terribly, terribly rich is not alone a good thing in politics but that when it comes to the Seanad it is darn nearly a requirement. I suppose it is easy for someone who has the financial clout of Ballyfree Farm behind them to say this.

I’ve paid for my campaign out of my own funds. I’ll post the amounts I've outlaid at the end of the campaign (don’t want people stealing in on my bargains now, do I) and in large part the SSIA has met the bills.