herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Seanad reform would see expats electing senators

Maurice Manning
Maurice Manning

RADICAL proposals to reform the workings of the Seanad would give people living North of the Border and Irish emigrants a vote to choose the country's Senators.

But the changes will not happen in time for the next election, it has emerged.

A new expert report proposed major changes to the upper house of parliament which voters decided to retain in a referendum in October 2013. The chairman of the report group, Maurice Manning, said they did the work on the basis that they expected implementation as soon as possible.

ignored

"This cannot become just another one of those reports which were ignored," he said.

The proposed changes were framed within terms of the 1937 Constitution articles relating to the Seanad as another referendum was ruled out. The plan envisages 60 Senators, 11 of whom would still be nominated by the Taoiseach.

But 30 Senators would be directly elected by voters from five vocational panels. In line with draft legislation already published by Government, six Senators would come from a new third-level education constituency, expanded from the current one confined to TCD and NUI.

The current number of 43 Senators, elected by city and county councillors and TDs and Senators, would be reduced to 13. Councillors, TDs and Senators would no longer have up to five Seanad votes.

A central part of the reforms would be giving everyone just one vote, with third-level graduates also choosing whether they would register for that constituency or the more general one.

Mr Manning defended the system.

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