Government has ‘killed off’ Seanad reform, McDowell claims

Independent Senator says some colleagues have been ‘assured’ changes will not happen

Seanad reform has been ‘killed off’’ by the Government, Independent Senator Michael McDowell has. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Seanad reform has been ‘killed off’’ by the Government, Independent Senator Michael McDowell has. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

 

Seanad reform has been “killed off’’ by the Government, Independent Senator Michael McDowell has told the House.

“Government Senators have been assured it will not happen,” he added.

Mr McDowell said Senators interested in reforming the Upper House would meet next week.

They would attempt to have the issue debated in the Seanad and, if that failed, they would try to have it raised in the Dáil.

Mr McDowell raised the Manning report which recommended that all citizens, including emigrants and Northern Ireland residents, should have a vote in Seanad elections.

It also recommended that 30 of the 60-member Seanad should in future be elected by universal suffrage, with all Irish passport holders entitled to vote.

Mr McDowell said he had noticed during the recent Fine Gael leadership contest Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had suggested to his party colleagues a special panel be created for emigrant voters.

“This is something that was not contemplated by the Manning report,” he added.

Minister of State Damien English said there was no change in the Government’s commitment to introduce Seanad reform.

A programme for partnership government had confirmed the Government’s commitment to pursue the report’s implementation, he added.