Seanad reform is long overdue


Madam, - I support Noel Whelan's call for renewed attention to the apparently neglected need to reform Seanad Éireann (Opinion, October 26th).

In 2003 I responded to the invitation to make a written submission on this subject and gave evidence at the sub-committee on Seanad Reform public hearings on September 19th 2003.

I was impressed by the sub-committee's published report on its findings and recommendations in May 2004. However, it did not address one issue I think still requires rectification.

In my submission I made a detailed suggestion that Seanad Éireann, under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice, should formally try charges of impeachment alleged against a President or other constitutional officers, once Dáil Éireann had first established a valid case to answer.

This straightforward procedure would make best use of the particular qualities of each House of the Oireachtas and it is that followed by the Congress of the United States of America provided for in Section 3, Article 1 of its Constitution.

I also suggested, using the same source, that the presidential pardon in Article 13, Section 2 of Bunreacht na hÉireann should not apply to an impeachment conviction.

When I attended the public hearing, the sub-committee members' reaction to these points convinced me that this is another part of the Irish Constitution needing improvement.

Reform of Seanad Éireann is long overdue. Apart from the impeachment process, the matter has been sufficiently discussed and refined. The Government should prepare and present without undue delay a Bill containing the above-mentioned recommendations made to the Oireachtas for amendment of the Constitution to reform Seanad Éireann. - Yours, etc,

GERARD CARTON, Winchester, Hampshire, England.