22 May 2003 Edition

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Submissions wanted on Seanad reform

BY JUSTIN MORAN


The Seanad is, as things go, a fairly mysterious institution. Many aren't aware that it exists and those who know of it, aren't really sure what it does or how you get into it. As the Upper House in the Oireachtas, its role in Irish political life seems to be restricting to commenting on legislation that it has little influence over and acting as a support mechanism for TDs who lost their seats. It also keeps David Norris in the public eye.

Perhaps conscious of this, the Committee on Procedures and Privileges of the Seanad is asking TDs to make submissions about the reform of the Seanad. The scope of the review is broken down into two sections, the composition of the Seanad and its functions:

Composition of the Seanad: The manner and basis of election; University representation in its current or amended form; The nomination of Senators by An Taoiseach and The most appropriate basis for providing representation for emigrants and persons from 'Northern Ireland'.

Functions of the Seanad: The role of the Seanad in the passing of legislation; The contribution the Seanad culd make to enhanced parliamentary accountability and scrutiny; The extent to which the Seanad could engage in review of public policy and The role of the Seanad in European Union affairs.

Sinn Féin intends making a submission. Current party policy is that the Seanad as it stands is a powerless and almost irrelevant institution. The party made no attempt to elect any representatives to it at the last Seanad election, preferring to back Kathy Sinnott's campaign. We do believe however that a reformed and democratic Upper House has the potential to be of benefit to the creation of an Irish Republic, especially in the area of All-Ireland representation.

All members with an interest in the area are encouraged to make suggestions on any or all of the sections above and send it to [email protected] or the office of Arthur Morgan TD, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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