Speaking during the debate on the Seanad Electoral Bill which would see the right to vote in Seanad elections extended to all third –level graduates Sinn Fein’s Trevor Ó Clochartiagh accused the Government of reinforcing elitism and of introducing antidemocratic legislation.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:
“In the light of the recent campaign around the abolition of the Seanad and the subsequent rejection of this by the electorate, extension of the university franchise does not go far enough.
“After the defeat of the referendum the Government gave an undertaking to reform the Seanad.
“In other words, they acknowledged that people wanted real reform and not abolition.
“The promise of reform was a signal that they respected the wishes of the people.
“But let’s be very clear, extension of the university franchise does not constitute meaningful and genuine reform.
“Indeed, one of the very arguments put forward by the Government and Fine Gael in particular in favour of abolition was that the Seanad was elitist and dysfunctional.
“Extending the franchise to all third level graduates does nothing to alter this situation or to challenge the elitist nature of the Upper House.
“We need a properly reformed Seanad, one that is democratic, accountable and egalitarian and that works in the best interests of good governance.
“Piecemeal, cosmetic change reinforces elitism. We need to bring an end to elitism.
“Extending the vote to everyone is the first step towards real reform.”