The Senate: What needs to be done

Excellent letter in today’s Irish Times.

Reforming the Seanad

A chara,

Diarmaid Ferriter’s article, “Referendum defeat does not have to spell trouble” (Opinion, October 12th) needs to be challenged. Having given us a history lesson on past referendums, he concludes his article by implying that the onus for reform of the Seanad should fall on Enda Kenny.

In fairness to Mr Kenny, he believed that the Seanad was unreformable, as I did and still do. Why then should the onus for reform be placed on him?

Surely it should fall on those who passionately campaigned for Seanad reform, namely Democracy Matters and Fianna Fáil?

It is now up to them to come up with an acceptable reform package and, if needs be, to persuade the Government to put this package before the citizens of this State in a referendum.

Mr Ferriter also stated, erroneously in my opinion, that not reforming the Seanad “will be seen as a result that prompted a determination to maintain the status quo”. Not correct.

When I voted Yes to abolish the Seanad on October 4th, I voted to change the status quo and for a new beginning in Irish political life.

Those who voted No voted for the maintenance of the status quo and for the continued existence of that elitist, anachronistic political institution.

Nowhere on the ballot paper was the word “reform” mentioned.

In relation to reform, the idea of giving a Seanad vote to all third-level graduates is being suggested.

This again is an elitist, segregationist, non-democratic suggestion, in my opinion. So those who never get the privilege of attending a third-level institution don’t get to cast their vote.

Regarding “real” reform, may I suggest the following:

1. Reduce the number of senators from 60 to 30.

2. Pay each a salary of 50 per cent of a TD’s salary.

3. Give them no expenses, allowances, free parking or perks. Let them commute to their place of work like everybody else.

4. First preference given to young, able, bright, unemployed people who have a vested interest in creating a new Ireland for themselves and others.

5. Introduce a culture of accountability and responsibility where non-performing and low-attending senators are brought to book and moved on.

6. Allow no cronyism, no gombeenism and absolutely no nepotism.

Lets’s make a fresh start and begin to remove the barriers between the “haves” and the “have nots” in our society for once and for all.

Future generations will thank us for it.

Is mise,


Dublin 15.

4 thoughts on “The Senate: What needs to be done”

  1. Given that we are now stuck with it the primary reform needed for the Senate is to make it electable by universal suffrage. So here’s my tuppence worth.
    Have 4 constituencies based on the 4 provinces, 10 candidates per constituency. Have candidates proposed on a vocational basis, say by national bodies like Chambers of Commerce, IFA. Teachers Unions, ICA etc. No candidate must have been a TD or Councilor. No elected Senator may ever stand for election to the Dáil or County/City Council.
    Give the Senate the power to block legislation – not delay it – but requiring a minimum three quarters majority.

  2. This is an excellent letter. The onus to do something to reform the Seanad is not a matter for the Taoiseach–it is clearly a matter for Ferriter and his cohorts to get working on without delay.
    The Seanad remains a useless institution that hinders rather than helps democracy.The people once again showed themselves incapable of seeing the wood for the trees–not for the first time in referendums.
    The problem of who should vote in Seanad elections and how candidates should be selected is not touched on in the letter—
    Ferriter ,Joe OToole, Crown ,Quinn ,Zapone ,Whelan and their Fianna Fail allies should now come together ,after savouring their pyrric victory,and let us have their blueprint for a new Seanad for our consideration.

  3. A wonderfully crafted letter with very well thought out suggestions. It’s people like MÍCHEÁL Ó RUAIRC who should be in the Seanad.

    He is absolutely right too that it is not up to Enda Kenny to carry out the reform. One could argue that despite total reform being needed that is not what was voted for. The voters in their wisdom just voted for retention of the Seanad, nothing else.

    Your piece on the promotion of M.O’R(can’t bring myself to say the name) book says it all about the institution and the contempt in which it’s held by it’s members.

  4. nope this is in the power of the taoiseach. always has been. even when he tries to do something and loses.

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