Sinn Féin spokesperson on political reform, Senator David Cullinane, has called for extensive reform of the Seanad and the extension of voting rights to all citizens.
Speaking during debate on the Seanad Electoral Amendment Bill 2014, Senator Cullinane said:
“Sinn Féin does not support the proposal to give all third-level graduates a vote in future Seanad elections.
“After the defeat of the referendum the Government gave an undertaking to reform the Seanad.
“The promise of reform was a signal they respected the wishes of the people.
“Let’s be very clear, extension of the university franchise does not constitute meaningful and genuine reform.
“Extending the franchise to all third level graduates does nothing to challenge the elitist nature of the Upper House.
“There is something rotten at the core of the Seanad, which is the fact that 90 percent of the Irish people have no vote in electing its members.
“Any democratic state that would limit the franchise to people who have a third level degree cannot in all seriousness consider itself modern or democratic.
“There is no place in a 21st century democracy for such nonsense. Deciding who can vote on the basis of educational attainment is blatant elitism
“Sinn Féin believes in one person, one vote and universal franchise.
“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.”