Five easy steps to reform the Seanad
Sir , – In October 2013 ,the then Government of Fine Gael and Labour proposed through a referendum to abolish Seanad Éireann. The people in their wisdom rejected this proposal and voted to maintain the Seanad. But maintaining it in a revamped format, not the totally undemocratic institution that currently existed.
Over the past three years, two important reform proposals have been tabled: the Quinn/Zappone Bill in 2013, and the recommendations of the Working Group on Seanad Reform in 2015. Unfortunately, both sets of proposals remain unimplemented.
Without the need for constitutional change, the following radical Seanad reforms could be passed by the Oireachtas:
1. Universal franchise in Seanad Elections, with a vote for every Irish citizen.
2. A diaspora vote for emigrants and Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland.
3. Online voter registration and voting.
4. A reconstitution of the vocational panels and a more limited electoral role for Oireachtas members and councillors.
5. A redefined role for the Seanad in North-South relations, the consideration of secondary EU legislation, and the consideration of reports from statutory bodies and regulators.
If there is a will by the Oireachtas, there is a way, but as nothing has been done to implement these very necessary reforms, it appears our politicians want to maintain the status quo, and their stranglehold on the current malaise. – Yours, etc,
Rathfarnham, Dublin 14