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Not before time – proposed representation for emigrants and the North in the Seanad? April 13, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.
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Pat Leahy notes in yesterday’s SBP that today there are going to be proposals brought forward by Fine Gael for the following:

The working group on Seanad reform, which was established by the Taoiseach in the wake of his failed referendum to abolish the upper house, has recommended that emigrants and anyone living in Northern Ireland should be entitled to vote, in a massive extension of the Seanad electorate.

This in part on foot of the fact that:

The group has estimated that there are up to 800,000 foreign-based Irish passport-holders which the group says should be allowed to vote in a revamped Seanad electoral system. Residents of the North should also be allowed to vote, it says, as should all adults in the Republic.

There’s something of a back to the future vibe about it:

A small number of seats should be reserved for election by county councillors, while the university seats will also remain. The Taoiseach’s nominees will also remain, as the working group was obliged to stay within the existing constitutional framework.

And it seems the government has already accepted that it will follow the proposals of the working group (chaired by Maurice Manning). But not in time for the next elections.

I presume it would be a postal vote for those in the North? Or am I wrong there? How does it work? Leahy points to potential logistical issues in regard to emigrant votes. But also:

Allowing residents of the North to vote would open the possibility of substantial representation for the North in the Oireachtas for the first time.

It sure would. Long overdue.

Comments»

1. rockroots - April 13, 2015

If only there was some way, some mechanism for altering the constitution, we could remove the extremely undemocratic parts of Seanad selection like university and Taoiseach’s senators. Obviously that will have to wait until the urgent issue of presidential age limits is sorted out.

Just on Northern voters – would it be open to all, including UK passport holders? Could we see the unionist parties conspiring to send someone like Willie Frazer down to Dublin? It’d be good for democracy at least.

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EWI - April 14, 2015

If only there was some way, some mechanism for altering the constitution, we could remove the extremely undemocratic parts of Seanad selection like university and Taoiseach’s senators. Obviously that will have to wait until the urgent issue of presidential age limits is sorted out.

The extreme silliness of much of the focus-group social issues (sops to Labour?) do need to be seen to be believed.

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que - April 14, 2015

If it were to include UK holders would they have to include all EU passport holders?

Willie could hold demonstrations at every tricolour he met on the drive down.

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Joe - April 14, 2015

On the northern voters, I think it would be open to all – Irish and British passport holders. You see our republican logic is that the unionist British passport holders aren’t really British. They only think they are. It’s a sort of delusional false consciousness. But we will include them in for the Seanad vote and with a bit of luck, they’ll realize that they are really as Irish as the rest of us.

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2. John Goodwillie - April 13, 2015

It has to be a postal vote – that’s in the Constitution which the government are not prepared to alter in respect of the Seanad.

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3. roddy - April 13, 2015

Vote early and often !

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4. rockroots - April 13, 2015

It might be a nice gesture to allow resident non-Irish citizens to vote for the Seanad too, if it’s to become truly representative of the broad sweep of Irish identity. Currently, Dail elections are only open to Irish and British citizens, and Non-EU citizens can only vote in local elections. Again, that would require a referendum.

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que - April 14, 2015

Is that not the same all across Europe and I would suspect across the world? That only members of the polity can enjoy full voting rights.

It would be a unique political experiment to do so.

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5. Liberius - April 13, 2015

The Working Group Recommends
– that Eight members be elected on Culture & Education Panel ;
– that Nine members be elected on the Agriculture Panel;
– that Nine members be elected on the Labour Panel;
– that Nine members be elected on Industry on Commerce Panel;
– that Eight members be elected on the Administration Panel

On page 30 of the report linked below there is that; a near equalisation of seats between the panels, though with no plausible method of balancing each panel’s electorate given that they also say that people will be able to choose a panel for themselves. I look forward to gaining a vote of unequal value to the votes that others will gain.

http://taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Work_Of_The_Department/Protocol/Working_Group_on_Seanad_Reform/FINAL_Seanad_Reform_web_version.pdf

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6. benmadigan - April 13, 2015

if someone is interested in getting elected/nominated/selected/coerced on to/ ???? one of these panels what’s the procedure/mechanism?

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John Goodwillie - April 14, 2015

As at present, nomination either by members of the Oireachtas or by nominating bodies. Councillors vote on Oireachtas nominations, people on nominating bodies’ nominations. How you campaign nationally: don’t know.

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7. Logan - April 13, 2015

Interesting report.
And I see that Adrian Kavanagh, who is greatly followed here, is amongst those who made a submission to it.

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