Thursday 27 October 2016

Public may get vote in Seanad Elections

A large number of members of Seanad Eireann should be directly elected by the public, a radical reform report for Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to recommend.

Mr Kenny has been briefed on the contents of the report, which is expected to be published on Monday.

The Herald has learned that the group is to recommend a majority of the 43 senators who form five panels will no longer be elected by local authorities, but by members of the public.

This controversial move is likely to be strongly resisted by councillors across the country, who can elect senatorial panels, but the Government has indicated it would act on the report. The group was told to bring forward a set of reforms within the confines of the Constitution.

It is understood that the group has sought to bring forward a series of reforms within the boundaries of Article 18 of the Constitution, which relates to the Upper House.

The panels are Agriculture (11 seats), Labour (11), Industrial and Commercial (nine), Administrative (seven) and Cultural and Educational (five).

Because they are specifically named in the Constitution they will remain, but the group recommends that the constituencies for a majority of the seats on those panels be altered.

Because of the explicit provision in the Constitution that elections to the Seanad are by secret postal ballot, the group is recommending an innovative approach in order to facilitate the move to a direct election.


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