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Seanad reform

In October 2013, the Irish people rejected the proposed abolition of the Seanad. I, along with Senator Feargal Quinn, Senator Katherine Zappone and others, campaigned for its retention on the promise that Seanad Éireann could be reformed into a vibrant and dynamic chamber with an important role to play in Irish democracy.

Without the need for constitutional change, the following radical Seanad reforms could be passed by the Oireachtas:
  • Universal franchise in Seanad Elections, with a vote for every Irish citizen;
  • A diaspora vote for emigrants and Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland;
  • Online voter registration and voting;
  • A reconstitution of the vocational panels and a more limited electoral role for Oireachtas members and councillors;
  • A redefined role for the Seanad in North-South relations, the consideration of secondary EU legislation, and the consideration of reports from statutory bodies and regulators;
“The reform is yet to take place, and my objective in the Upper House is to make it happen.”

Seanad Éireann role

During my time as Attorney General, Minister for Justice, and Tánaiste, I witnessed first-hand the thoughtful and insightful contributions of senators from across the political spectrum. This experience underscored to me the ability of Seanad Éireann to make a valuable contribution to the legislative process.

Seanad Éireann has the following important constitutional functions:
  • Seanad Éireann provides a non-confrontational consideration of all legislation
  • Important legislation is frequently initiated in the Seanad rather than the Dáil
  • Important private members’ bills have been tabled by senators dealing with many issues of social policy and law reform
  • Seanad Éireann must give prior approval to EU proposals for enhanced co-operation, the Shengen Acquis, and Ireland’s ‘opt-out’ of EU measures on freedom, justice and security
  • Seanad Éireann can petition the President to put important bills to the people by referendum
  • Seanad Éireann has a veto over any proposal to impeach the President, to remove judges from office, or to remove the Comptroller and Auditor General from office
  • Up to two members of the Seanad may be appointed to cabinet as government ministers.

what’s coming up in the seanad

Tue
21
Nov

Health and Social Care Professionals (Amendment) Bill 2017

Wed
22
Nov

Judicial Council Bill 2017 - Second Stage

Thu
23
Nov

Motion on the Report of the joint Committee on Education and Skills on the "Report on the eligibility of maintenance grants to students"

10-10-17 Order of Business