Extension of voting rights welcomed but a lot more required on Seanad reform – David Cullinane
Responding to the publication of a report by the Working Group on Seanad Reform Sinn Féin Seanad Leader David Cullinane has said the report should be debated in both the Dáil and Seanad.
He welcomed some of the recommendations such as the extension of the vote for Irish citizens in the North and for the diaspora but he said ultimately the recommendations fall short of what is required.
Senator Cullinane said;
“Sinn Féin gave a cautious welcome to the establishment of the Seanad Reform Working Group since we have consistently argued for a fresh Constitutional Convention to be established which looks at political reform, including Seanad Reform.
“The Working Group has taken their task seriously and we welcome the fact that they listened to citizens by inviting submissions from the public for consideration as part of the process.
“Sinn Féin made a submission to the Working Group. We argued for;
· Direct election by way of universal franchise of all Irish citizens
· Northern and diaspora representation
· 50% female representation
· Representation of marginalised groups within Irish society
· Fulfil its balancing function in the Oireachtas by scrutinising EU legislation from proposal stage, Ministerial appointments, equality proofing of all legislation.
“We welcome the fact that the report goes some way to support these recommendations but ultimately it falls well short of what is required.
“We have strongly argued for voting rights being extended to citizens in the north and to the diaspora and welcome the inclusion of this recommendation in the report, however representation for both should also be included.
“Sinn Féin tabled a constitutional amendment bill last month to extend voting rights in Presidential elections in this regard also which the government supported. They must now act on this and stop the roll back on previously stated commitments.
“We want to see gender parity in the Seanad. The working group has failed to deal with this adequately.
“The Taoiseach should not have the privilege of appointing 11 nominees to the Seanad. This privilege is elitist and undemocratic and Sinn Fein does not support the retention of such a power.
“The proposal to elect 30 of the 60 Seanad seat by universal suffrage is 30 too few. We should not maintain any system that allows for people to be elected by anything other than universal suffrage.
“Sinn Féin in Government would go further to deliver real and meaningful reform of the Seanad. We would establish a fresh Constitutional Convention to look at political reform in its entirety, including radical Seanad Reform.
“It now remains to be seen if this government is in fact serious about delivering any reform and whether it will implement the recommendations of the working group with any urgency.
“Sinn Féin awaits the legislation proposed and will consider its detail and consider amendments to reflect our parties own position. In the meantime we believe that the report from the working group should be debated in both the Dáil and the Seanad.”