Seanad meeting in UL would mark need for reform

 

SEANAD ÉIREANN should convene a once-off session at the University of Limerick (UL) later this year to highlight the fact that graduates of the university are not allowed to vote in elections for the Upper House, Independent Senator Joe O’Toole has said.

Mr O’Toole has tabled a Private Members’ motion in the Seanad this week urging the Government to hold a referendum to implement the all-party report on Seanad reform agreed three years ago.

He said yesterday it would also be appropriate because this year is the 30th anniversary of the 1979 referendum which amended the Constitution to allow the Seanad’s franchise be extended to other third-level institutions beside the National University of Ireland colleges and Trinity College Dublin.

However, the necessary legislation has never been brought forward to extend the franchise for the six third-level seats to graduates of UL and the other institutions such as DCU and the institutes of technology.

Commenting the development, president of UL Prof Don Barry said: “The University of Limerick welcome the efforts currently being made to extend Seanad voting rights to UL graduates.”

Green Party chairman Dan Boyle said that he and his colleague Deirdre de Búrca were committed to full reform of the Seanad and this commitment was included in the Programme for Government.

“Legislation will be required. The Government amendment to the motion will be supportive of Seanad reform and will say some things in favour of the proposal that has been made,” he said.

Senator Boyle said that legislation would be required and that the priority would be to make the reform wider than changes in the way the university Senators are elected.