There were 112 proposals made between 1937 and 2013 for the reform of the Seanad, Marie-Louise O’Donnell said.
They covered such matters as size and composition, elections, automatic re-election of the cathaoirleach, terms and timing of elections, gender balance, vocational panels, regional versus national panels, university seats, taoiseach’s nominees, votes for people living in the North, and other issues.
Ms O'Donnell said there were 10 reports between 1937 and 2004, as well as Bills presented by Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Senators Katherine Zappone and Feargal Quinn and Senator John Crown. "The question for us is where to begin,'' she added. "As an Independent Senator, I believe we must begin very quickly.''
Senator Zappone (Ind) said the claim by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that the Constitution must remain rooted in the political convictions of the 1930s, and could not be reinterpreted to fit modern needs, was archaic. It also disregarded a well-established judicial principle that the Constitution was a living document.
“The generation who wrote the 1937 Constitution is the same one that fought for our national freedom,’’ she added. “It gave us a free Constitution to empower our people politically, socially and economically.’’
Prof John Crown (Ind) said what was now being heard in terms of reform was that the constitutional amendment passed in 1979 to extend a vote to all third-level graduates would be implemented.
"Let us put a little perspective on 35 years ago,'' Prof Crown added. "Jimmy Carter was the president of the United States. ''