Graduates from all third level institutions will be able to vote to elect candidates for six seats in future Seanad elections.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the extension of voting rights in his leader’s speech at the Fine Gael Party Conference in Limerick on October 12th.
Previously, only graduates from Trinity College Dublin and the National Universities of Ireland could vote for the six available seats in the Seanad.
The decision comes after the referendum to abolish the Seanad was defeated and is seen as the first step by the Government to reform the house.
Speaking about the Seanad referendum result, the Taoiseach said “the outcome is clear and we will now continue to reform the political system and to ensure the Seanad plays as effective a part as possible within its constitutional constraints.”
DCU Students’ Union President, Aaron Clogher welcomed the new measure and said, “it will make the Seanad more accessible to people and offer a fair representation”. He also emphasised the need for further reform saying that the Seanad “doesn’t represent all sectors of society”.
The measure can be brought into effect due to legislation passed in a 1979 referendum which allowed for the electorate to be expanded but was never implemented.
DCU SU’s Education Officer,Ciaran O’Connor, was hesitant in his praise for the measure commenting, “I don’t think it goes the full way to tackling elitism in the Seanad but I think it’s a natural progression.”
Image Credit: Tommy Kavanagh via WikiCommons