Reforming the Seanad


Sir, – Senator David Norris raises “technical” difficulties in terms of permitting graduates other than those of the NUI and Trinity College to vote for the election of six senators (October 23rd). This sounds suspiciously like early back-tracking on the rhetoric of those who purported to want to save the Seanad not as a bastion of privilege but as a mechanism of urgent reform.

Senator Norris and the other five senators who have been elected by the privileged NUI and Trinity constituencies must ensure that any such difficulties are overcome before the next Seanad is chosen. It would be intolerable for their institutions to continue an entirely discriminatory privilege after recent protestations by himself and his five colleagues.

For more than 30 years, the reform of university representation in the Seanad has been possible by way of legislation. How many sustained efforts did Trinity and NUI senators make to introduce such legislation or protest loudly their embarrassment at their own privilege?

Senator Norris wants Dublin City University joined electorally with Trinity to retain what he calls “the distinctive character of the two existing constituencies”. As a graduate of both those “constituencies” who has two Seanad votes (while this university’s graduates have none), I have no idea what “distinctive character” he has in mind but think that his idea sounds undemocratic by, as he admits, “exacerbating the existing disproportionality of numbers”. – Yours, etc,


Professor of


Dublin City University,

Dublin 9.