The people of Longford/Westmeath bucked the national result by voting narrowly in favour of abolishing Seanad Eireann. And they also voted ‘Yes’ to the introduction of a new Court of Appeal.
51.02% or 15,911 voted Yes for the Government proposal to abolish the Seanad, while 48.98% (15,273) of voters were against.
38% of the Longford/Westmeath elctorate turned out for yesterday’s two Referendum votes. 85,791 people were entitled to vote across the constituency with 31,622 casting their ballot.
There were 438 spoiled votes in the Seanad referendum, making the total valid poll 31,184 and Longford Leader reporter Aisling Kiernan, who was at the Referendum Count Centre in Kenagh today, revealed that on many of the spoilt votes, people wrote on them calling for ‘reform not abolition’ of the Seanad.
Fine Gael Deputy James Bannon told media at the Count Centre that “democracy matters, people like their pillars of democracy.”
However, with voters nationwide deciding to reject the proposal for the abolition of the Seanad, the Deputy’s brother, Longford County Mayor Cllr Larry Bannon wasn’t pleased and he suggested that the Referendum Commission had questions to answer over the confusion with ballot papers.
There was a white ballot paper for the Seanad referendum and and a green one for the Court of Appeal referendum.
Amid reports that the cost of running the Referendums cost between €17 and €20 million, Fine Gael parliamentary party chairperson Charlie Flanagan said the lack of interest by voters in referendums represents a massive challenge to the Oireachtas, as the public are now facing five or six more votes.
1,240,729 voted across the country in the Seanad Referendum. There were 14,355 spoilt votes giving a total valid poll of 1,226,374 and the Yes vote was 591,937 (48.3%) and the No vote was 634,437 (51.7%).
It was a victory of 42,500 votes for the No side thereby retaining Seanad Eireann.
Yes to Court of Appeal
Meanwhile, in regard to the Referendum on the establishment of a Court of Appeal and other changes to the court system, Longford/Westmeath constituency voted in favour of this proposal - 19,146 voted Yes (61.8%) and 11,839 voted No (38.2%). The total valid poll was 30,985, with 617 spoilt voted being cast.