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Referendum by popular initiative

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Sir, – Surely a vital constitutional amendment would be the provision of a mechanism whereby a certain number of petitioners could require the Oireachtas to call a referendum whether it likes to do so or not, as is the case in other countries. At present only the parliamentarians can call a referendum and they are unlikely to do so when they perceive threats to their own interests and powers. As we have seen, TDs and Senators can lag behind public opinion and be unwilling to take a stance on what they see as controversial issues. As the referendum on the Seanad showed, no serious reform of the Constitution itself, of the administrative and electoral systems at both local and national levels, or of the appointment of “independent” bodies, can ever really take place without a mechanism that forces the turkeys in Leinster House to vote for Christmas. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL FRIEL,

Bunbeg,

Co Donegal.

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