Varadkar proposes electing people from the North to the Seanad

Some news in today from Leo Varadkar’s first appearance before the Seanad as Taoiseach. The reports; Seanad should be allowed to elect senators from Northern Ireland – from both nationalist and unionist communities – so the Upper House of parliament has an “all-island dimension”. Addressing Seanad members today, Varadkar said having both nationalist and unionist representatives would provide “different voices on issues which concern us all”. The report continues Varadkar made the comment as he announced that a new … Read more

Micheal Martin gives three of the Taoiseach’s nominations to independent Senators 

When it comes to the Seanad the constitution gives the Taoiseach 11 nominations to overcome any shortfall from a majority. But RTE has just learned live on air that as part of his deal with Fianna Fáil Micheal Martin got to name three of them. The three are Jane Freeman who is a founder of Pieta House and has sworn her independence, Collette Kelleher is CEO ofAlzheimer’s Ireland and Pádraig Ó’Céidigh who is a businessman. That is they are specialists … Read more

“I wish to propose a vote of congratulations to the Northern Ireland football team on their magnificent performance in the World Cup.”

Fascinating little snippet from the past (when only one team on the island was making it into international soccer finals). This in particular from one Senator Mallon: It is a real example of what a lot of fire in the belly can do as opposed to the great odds that the Northern Ireland team faced. I have great pleasure in being associated with that motion. Now, as you were… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers … Read more

Those radical Seanad reforms include enfranchising passport holders in Northern Ireland…

So, finally, the Seanad reforms are out [Report]. This, it seems, is serious business. Having been told by the Irish people they want to keep the upper chamber, these proposals are likely to re-emerge is as little as two weeks in the form of draft legislation. Broadly, they are these: Thirty-six of the 60 seats be directly elected from five vocational panels and from the university constituency Thirteen of the 60 seats be indirectly elected from an electoral college of … Read more

Seanad Eireann’s pivotal role in Irish Water bill makes case for deeper reform…

So, useless elite and out of touch is it? By a series of happy (or unhappy) accidents the government now has no majority in the Irish upper house. And by a further happy (or unhappy) accident the Seanad finds itself in a position to exercise real and substantial power of some critical amendments in an upcoming money bill. Gavan Reilly explains… …amendments are where things could get tricky. In the Dáil last week the government blocked amendments that many neutral … Read more

#McNultyMess: “the very things the Taoiseach criticized about the Seanad are the ones he’s exploiting””

I think the Irish Times have the best tag for this business over public appointments and Seanad nominations, when they eschewed #McNultyGate for the #McNultyMess.. Messy it is, though Averil power hits something when she notes that the Government has failed to take account of the fact that the Seanad was saved by the people, not in order to preserve the old ways of doing things, but to give it a stronger and more legitimate purpose.. Not that easy, says … Read more

And then there were just two candidates left standing for the Seanad byelection…

So John McNulty has gone. That just leaves Sinn Fein’s Lurgan based candidate Cat Seeley and independent candidate Gerald Craughwell, … That McNulty sure seems qualified. Board member of IMMA…impressive. — Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) September 29, 2014 He cannot by law withdraw from his official candidacy but he’s indicated that people should not vote for him [eek, that’s bit messy – Ed]… That leaves a lot of FGers with a bit of a problem. The Seanad was getting unruly enough … Read more

Surely the McNulty affair makes the case for serious Seanad reform unanswerable?

So, that wasn’t such a great idea after all. John McNulty has stepped down from the board of IMMA. And even if he does win the election the unfortunate Mr McNulty may have a legal case on his hands, after one of his rival candidates, Gerard Craughwell, for the vacant seat in the Seanad has said he’s now unqualified to stand for the Cultural and Education Panel. The irony is that a section of Senators don’t need to be qualified … Read more

How to get nominated for Seanad Eireann (in one easy lesson)…

Interesting insight into just how odd the electoral mechanism to the upper chamber in Dublin is, and just what an insiderly game the business of public appointments is. The Arts Minister, Heather Humphreys, has defended a decision to appoint Fine Gael’s Seanad by-election candidate to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) — without going through the public procurement process. John McNulty, a 37-year-old from Donegal, was appointed on September 12, just days before nominations closed. The … Read more

So what can Northern Ireland offer Israel/Palestine by way of a positive example?

So Seanad Eireann is be recalled for the second summer in a row. It’s tempting to see it only in domestic terms of the battle for supremacy on the opposition benches with Sinn Fein calling for debate in the Dail (the Irish lower house) and failing, and Fianna Fail calling for it in the upper house (and succeeding). The debate itself, or the Gaza end of it will likely focus on the Irish government’s abstention (along with all eight other … Read more

Seanad Eireann and an emerging consensus for functional reform?

So Seanad Reform? It hasn’t gone away you know!  Leaving aside the practical consideration of how progress is to be made in discussions of future reforms, on the table are five ‘live’ documents: Senator John Crowne’s Seanad Electoral Reform Bill 2013 (March 2013) Senators Zappone and Quinn’s Seanad Bill 2013 (published on behalf of Democracy Matters) Fianna Fáil’s A Seanad for the People (2013) The Green Party, Seanad Reform Policy (September 2013) Seanad Committee on Procedures and Privileges, Sub-committee on Seanad Reform … Read more

Seanad Referendum: Good days, bad days and some in between…

So, quickly the Seanad Referendum, good days, bad days, and a couple of inbetweeners… Good day for Micheál Martin. Picked the right side, largely for the right reasons. His obvious ease in publicly discussing policy (not typical of many Irish politicians) contrasted with the Taoiseach’s no show, and played a critical role in boiling down the Yes side’s 72% rating at the beginning of the summer. Leader of the party formerly known as ‘shifty’ made his opponents look shiftless. Post poll … Read more

Crisis, what crisis? Sinn Fein’s septimana horribilis may only be the beginning…

At the start of the week, Danny Morrison delivers an ‘almost time to panic’ post to Eamonn’s blog… Next he’s on Nolan filling out what he means: listen to ‘Danny Morrison: “I hope I’m wrong but I suspect the Assembly could collapse”’ on Audioboo This sort of rhetoric has been streaming out of that quarter for weeks. But as Ken Reid noted last night, there is little evidence of any crisis other than a threat by Sinn Fein to send the … Read more

#SeanadRef: Ireland’s wrecking ball approach to political reform has been expensive and disastrous

“Our propaganda can never be stronger than our actions” Michael Collins Abolition of anything in government is rarely a harbinger of improvement or reform. Yet it seems to have become Ireland’s particular political poison of choice. The last time the Irish political system was utterly transformed was back in 1977 when Jack Lynch axed the local domestic rate. In doing so, he removed what little democratic value remained in local government. In the intervening thirty five years councils were run … Read more

#SeanadRef: Gerry Adams’ cogent and eloquent argument against his own party’s official position…

I’ll be doing a round up of today’s #DigitalLunch with Joe McHugh TD and Derek Mooney of DemocracyMatters on Monday. But I have to say after that long detailed and highly civil debate, I was a bit taken aback to read this on Gerry Adams’ own blog. It’s a cogent and concise argument against the abolition of the Seanad from the leader of Sinn Fein on the day the Referendum bill was introduced in the Dail. A position which was … Read more

#SeanadRef: Unicameral reforms little more than a ‘fag packet visualisation’?

So, back to the real world, sortta. Yesterday the Government launched its package of reforms to try to make a future unicameral Dail fit for purpose: Extending Dáil sitting week and providing additional time for legislative debate The Dáil will start earlier each day meeting at 12.30pm on Tuesday and 9.30am on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday sittings will take place every second week and be extended to include a 2 hour debate on a Private Member’s Bill and a 2 … Read more

#SeanadRef: The Seanad is a watchdog that only barks every fifty years…

listen to ‘#SeanadRef Boo 1: The long failing road to reform ’ on Audioboo Short audioboo on the Seanad Abolition Referendum (in lieu of a longer piece tomorrow on the Fine Gael position)… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

#SeanadRef will do little “to rebalance power within the Oireachtas or between the Executive and Legislature…”

I’ve already lodged my scepticism regarding the abolition of the Seanad. What’s surprising is that few on the Yes side seem to be marshalling much in the way of intellectual argument for its abolition. In this clip of the Dail debate which introduced the referendum from Deputy Gerry Adams nails the obscurantism of the current government’s reform agenda, and describes it as a power grab… In addition to getting rid of sixty Seanadóirí, the Taoiseach plans to reduce the numbers … Read more

On political reform: “the present time of crisis is exactly the time to act”

A year ago James Downey wrote of the Taoiseach’s long standing committment to abolish Eamonn De Valera’s Seanad Eirean thus: Seanad Eireann (did he invent the name too?) made a gesture towards “vocationalism”, a daft idea popular in some right-wing circles in the 1930s, and another gesture towards elitism, with six seats reserved for graduates of the National University and Trinity College. The whole thing was wildly undemocratic. And it didn’t work. It couldn’t work. He never intended it to … Read more