What to do with the Seanad?

A correspondent to the Irish Times professes the opinion that Seanad Éireann, despite all appearances to the contrary, is a democratic institution, because some politicians who’ve been elected by everyone get to elect some senators, and some university graduates get to elect another handful.

Sorry, no, that’s not democracy.

For a start, just looking at the university panels – what’s democratic about a huge proportion of the population having no vote, and a small but significant section having multiple votes?

Seriously. I had coffee last week with someone who likes to study. Nothing wrong with that at all.  But they have three degrees – from different universities.  They therefore manage to have not one, but two votes in the Seanad election – one for the Trinity panel and one for the NUI panel. Someone else at the table has a degree from Dublin City University. No vote for them.  That’s fair?  Democratic?

The correspondent referred to above writes from Brussels. Assuming that’s a permanent address, then they have representation without taxation – while people living and working here have taxation without representation.  Not democratic.

The obvious retort is “Reform!”

But we keep hearing that, and nothing happens.  This report, from 2004, is not the first such report recommending reform – hopefully it can be the last.


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