DCU’s further exclusion from the Seanad electorate is “neither rational nor fair” according to DCU President Brian MacCraith in an article on the The Irish Times website last week.
The article, which was written by DCU graduate Brian Mooney in his “Ask Brian” segment, highlights the fact that DCU, UL and IT graduates are not eligible to vote for three seats during Seanad elections despite a promise made by Enda Kenny in 2013 to tackle the issue.
The graduates that are allowed vote come from two constituencies. One being any university under the NUI banner and the other being Trinity College.
MacCraith is disappointed with the situation and feels that there should be an all-or-none policy when it comes to graduates electing Seanad members.
He said, “While the rationale for specific representation of university graduates in the Seanad is itself arguable, the current exclusion of DCU and UL graduates, when representation is offered to the other five universities, is neither rational nor fair.”
It is incredibly unlikely that the promise made by Kenny will be dealt with when the incoming government forms as the Seanad’s importance has been questioned over the last number of years, as seen with the referendum to abolish the body in 2013.
DCU politics professor Gary Murphy explained that the constitution was amended back in 1979 to allow DCU, UL and IT graduates to be included, but the amendment has never been legislated for due to a “lack of political will by politicians”.
“For two decade working in this university I have argued for the 7th amendment in the constitution to be legislated for and I was involved in the Seanad campaign to keep the Seanad and have it significantly amended but obviously nothing has happened. It’s a rather sad state of events really,” said Murphy.
Another lecturer of politics in DCU, Dr. Deiric O’Brion, believes that the vote is an outdated elitist ruling and offered alternate solutions.
He said, “Maybe an obvious reform is to abolish the university panels completely and allow the Taoiseach to appoint an additional 6 or allow councillors elect an additional 6?”