Galway divided over Seanad abolition with only a day to go to the vote

Voter anger continues in wake of austerity

Galway is split on whether or not to abolish Seanad Éireann, with campaigners encountering mixed views on the issue only 24 hours ahead of polling.

However, a desire to “give the political class a kicking”, in the words of one campaigner, may give the Yes side the edge as voter anger at politicians in general continues in the wake of austerity and the looming Budget on October 15.

Yes campaigners are also citing the recent Irish Times poll showing 62 per cent in favour of abolition. Yet this figure may not apply here as the Galway west and east constituencies have numerous graduates of NUI Galway. Graduates have a vote in Seanad elections and an interest in participating in the process. They are therefore less likely to support abolishing their own right to vote.

Labour city councillor Billy Cameron feels this factor could benefit the No campaign.

“Graduates may look at it from that point of view as they have an engagement in the process,” he told the Galway Advertiser. “The high number of graduates in Galway could swing it towards a No vote, but when you see posters talking about the Seanad as representing the one per cent, that will hit home with the electorate who don’t have a Seanad vote.”

Cllr Cameron has reported a strong feeling of disengagement among the public over the referenda, but when discussing it with voters, “mixed views” are encountered. Generally No voters feel the Seanad should be retained as part of “checks and balances in the political system”. Yes voters concentrate on the issues of costs and that the upper house has been used as a retirement home for older politicians and a kindergarten for aspiring TDs.

Claims that abolishing the Seanad would save the State €20 million have been called into question by Galway senator Fidelma Healy Eames.

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