A crew of cross-party ex, prospective and current politicians were not allowed to canvass for a No Vote in the upcoming Seanad referendum, at the Golden Island Shopping Centre.
Instead of inside the shopping centre, the canvassers gave out leaflets, and discussed their views with members of the public, outside the Athlone shopping arena.
Mary O’Rourke, former Fianna Fail minister and leader of Seanad Eireann joined forces with her former Seanad colleague, Independent Senator Joe O’Toole, as part of the Democracy Matters group which is canvassing for a No. They were joined by a strong Labour presence in Athlone last week, when Senators John Kelly (Roscommon) and John Whelan (Laois), and former Athlone Mayor, Jim Henson, also of Labour were part of the canvass. Democracy Matters was also helped in their canvass by John McNamara, a former Sinn Fein member, who is now PRO of the People’s Voice party.
O’Rourke has history with the Seanad campaign, because she was one of the authors of a report on reforming the Seanad while she was leader, during the 2002-2007 period. However Fianna Fail in their General Election manifesto of 2011 weren’t entirely in favour of Seanad Eireann.
During the vote in July in Seanad Eireann to allow the holding of the referendum, senators voted along party lines with all Fine Gael and Labour members voting for the abolition legislation while all Fianna Fail and Sinn Féin members voted against. However Deputy Pearse Doherty of Sinn Fein announced on 26th July, that his party would be canvassing for a Yes vote, and called the Seanad, “an affront to democracy,”.