Sinn Féin win key amendments to Seanad Reform Bill – Warfield
Sinn Féin Senator and member of the Seanad Reform Implementation Group Fintan Warfield has today welcomed the publication of the Seanad Bill, legislation that seeks to implement the recommendations of the Manning Report. However, Senator Warfield has called on an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to present a new terms of reference that would allow the group to continue its work and review the constitutional framework of the upper house.
Senator Warfield said:
“I welcome the publication of the Report and Bill today. The legislation proposed alongside the Report, if implemented, will make a radical change to Seanad elections, ultimately leading to a more democratically representative chamber. I particularly welcome that a majority of the House will be publicly elected and that suffrage will be extended to Irish citizens in the north and abroad.
“Sinn Féin won a series of key amendments to this Report and Bill that provide for a greater gender balance amongst candidates; one six-seat university constituency elected by graduates who hold a Level 6 degree or above, that replaces the NUI and Trinity constituencies; and that the Taoiseach gives consideration to diversity, gender balance and representation from marginalised communities when nominating 11 Senators as per the constitution.
“The Taoiseach must now give a commitment to bring forward this Seanad Bill in the New Year.
“While the Seanad Reform Implementation Group has further analysed the recommendations of the Manning Report, these reforms are bound by the provisions of the Seanad laid out in Bunreacht na hÉireann.
“Sinn Féin believe that further reform can and should be made to the Seanad by examining the current constitutional provisions and how they can be reformed to facilitate a modern, diverse and democratic upper house.
“This examination should be conducted by a continuation of the Seanad Reform Implementation Group who should, as a starting point, explore a number of the following issues:
· The abolition of Taoiseach’s nominees
· The calling of Seanad elections the same day as the general elections for the Dáil.
· The abolition of a requirement of postal votes.
· The provision of equal gender representation.
· The provision of representation from traditionally marginalised groups in society.”