Eleven Senators Join Forces to Call for Speedy Action on Seanad Reform
As the 25th Seanad convenes today, eleven senators have joined forces to put forward long delayed reforms to Seanad Éireann and in particular, to radically overhaul how elections to the upper house of the Oireachtas are conducted.
The eleven senators have initiated legislation to enact the recommendations of the Manning Report. Noting the commitment to implementing these recommendations in the recently agreed Programme for Partnership Government, the senators are now calling on the Government to set out a clear timeline for delivery.
The eleven senators have co-sponsored and submitted a bill that enacts the recommendations of the Manning Report. They hope to work with all parties to ensure the timely passage of the legislation and to ensure that future elections to Seanad Éireann can be conducted under a radically reformed system. This must include the promised expansion of the franchise to ensure that every Irish citizen over 18 has an opportunity to cast their vote.
Independent Senator Michael McDowell said, “I am very glad to have the opportunity at the commencement of the 25th Seanad to present a Bill with the backing of many colleagues to radically reform the way in which the Seanad is elected in accordance with the proposals set out in The Manning Report. I hope that it will receive full and detailed consideration and be passed by the Seanad for enactment after its passage through Dáil Eireann.”
Independent Senator Alice-Mary Higgins said, “I campaigned for retention and reform of the Seanad, because I believe that as a national house it can and must represent all of the nation. Implementation of the Manning Report and delivery of one person, one vote is an important starting point. We want to work with all political parties and with wider civil society to ensure the Seanad finally fulfills its democratic potential.”
Independent Senator Lynn Ruane said, “It’s time to open up the Seanad to the Irish people. Politics in this country too often does not represent those who need to be represented most and this bill is a first step towards changing that. Minority and disadvantaged voices need a platform in Irish politics and it’s my hope that a reformed Seanad can provide that platform.”
Recently re-elected Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell said, “It is clear that as an institution the Seanad has failed to live up to its promise. Today is the start of the reform process and it is my intention to engage with all stakeholders to ensure the reformed Seanad delivers for the people of Ireland a more inclusive representation.”
Independent Senator Frances Black said, “Seanad reform will allow all the citizens of Ireland to engage in the Upper House. I firmly believe that a more open election and voting process will increase the relevance of the Seanad and engage all of our communities. I trust the Irish people to elect senators they can relate to and who will work hard on their behalf.”
Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan said, “The Seanad’s great potential was recognised by the Irish people in voting to retain it and it is clear the public want to see major reforms introduced. I’m delighted that our first action as Members of the 25th Seanad seeks to address the critical flaws in the institution. We are committed to working hard to deliver Seanad reform. In bringing forward this Bill, we’re doing just that.”
Independent Senator Victor Boyhan said, “I am delighted to support the Seanad Bill 2016, which represents a vital first step in reforming both the composition and function of the Seanad in order to make it a relevant institution for all.”
The call for action was delivered by Independent Senators Victor Boyhan, Lynn Ruane, Rónán Mullen, Michael McDowell, Gerard Craughwell, Alice-Mary Higgins, John Dolan, Frances Black, Pádraig Ó’Céidigh and Collette Kelleher and was also supported by Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan.