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And what of the Seanad ‘reform’ front… October 14, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

Interesting tack that Kenny is taking with the Seanad ‘reform’ hot potato, given that he’s now announced that:

“I intend to discuss this with other leaders in the coming weeks and, as a small first step, I have asked that legislation be prepared to give effect to the 1979 decision of the Irish people to extend the Seanad electorate to all graduates,” said Mr Kenny, who was behind the idea to hold last week’s referendum.

Refreshing our minds as to that decision, a mere three decade ago, it raises some interesting questions:

A 1979 referendum on extending the Seanad franchise to graduates of “any other institutions of higher education in the State” was emphatically passed but the measure has not been enacted to date. At present, graduates of the National University of Ireland and Trinity College Dublin each elect three senators.

Presumably it would be the same number of Senators but with a broader electorate? But that electorate is troublesome, to put it mildly, given that it is only a dilution of the elitist aspect of the Seanad, rather than a removal of only the most egregious elitist aspect. Is Kenny perhaps counting on this, that it will generate problems in the longer term for those proposing Seanad retention, or has he thrown his hands in the air and is merely picking for the most easily available policy that can be implemented by him without constitutional change and, more importantly, with some element of democratic legitimation? Or is it perhaps a mixture of both?

He has at least had the good sense to note that this is “a small first step”.


1. Joe - October 14, 2013

It’s an easy enough one for him. The legislation is passed. He’ll be able to say he implemented this reform and any other possible reforms will be long fingered due to constitutional difficulties.

However, as an NUI graduate, I must strenuously object. Giving the franchise to graduates of ITs and even … Art Colleges? This is an outrage.

Friend of mine is an engineer, went to UCC late sixties. English lecturer there used to explain the term oxymoron to his first year class every year with the example of “a civil engineer”. There were some developments in the third level sector later with which said Cork English lecturer did not approve. He explained to the class that he used to use “civil engineer” as his example of an oxymoron. But that the Minister for Education had recently provided him with an even better one…. “University of – Limerick”.


WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2013

Worse again art and design colleges 😦


2. Dr. X - October 14, 2013

If memory serves, the reason for the university senate seats was so that TCD would return a protestant senator, and there would always be at least one protestant in the oireachtas.


Mark P - October 14, 2013

Yes, and better still the right kind of Protestants rather than some Donegal yeoman.


3. shea - October 14, 2013

its sort of the only clean issue that has room to progress that FF are associated with, seanad reform. Think it may be about taking that away from them, he did say first small step, the presumption being that there will be more, if there is or not, but sort of contributes to a preseption, mad logic but whats the point of FF pushing for reform if the government are going to keep conceding it. would the government get the credit in such a senario.


WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2013

Great point about Kenny seeking to deny it to FF. That alone might be sufficient to make them keep going with it in some shape or form.


4. hardcorefornerds - October 14, 2013

I was interested to quantify the extent of the ‘diluted’ elitism: according to the CSO about 20-25% of the adult population has a third level degree: http://www.cso.ie/en/statistics/education/principalstatistics/
although a further awkward issue I suspect may be that the amendment only applies to “any other institutions of higher education in the State” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventh_Amendment_of_the_Constitution_of_Ireland)
so no graduates of universities abroad, or even QUB!


WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2013

That is interesting. Hadn’t realised that re Northern graduates.


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