If anyone is asked to name a Senator, they will probably name David Norris. The odd few will name Eamonn Coughlan, Fergal Quinn or our own Denis Landy. The frightening fact is the majority of the electorate have no idea who our Senators are or how they get elected. Credit must be given to people who are elected Senators and serve as Senators and don’t aspire for election to the Dáil but too often, it is becoming a safety net for those who didn’t get elected to the Dáil.
The current system of political elitism and comradery sees many those who failed to get the vote of the people during the General Election, get the nod from those from political counterparts and peers to take a seat in Leinster House. We as a people look on the Seanad without knowledge of its role or its relevance to our society today. We must demand immediate reform and a Seanad which is elected by the people, not by fellow politicians and elite groupings.
While this showpiece of political gerrymandering is set to take center stage, Ireland is on its knees. People are on hospital trollies, sick are on waiting lists, people are sleeping on our streets and desperate for a home and Rural Ireland is dying in front of our eyes
So how many candidates are there? Well, there’s over 173 in total with Gender Quota’s being abandoned with 27% female and 73% male candidates. With 31 former Seantors going for election, 57 Councillors and 16 former TD’s, we have over 100 candidates who are already from the political gene-pool. There are a number of panels but only 6 senators will be voted on by NUI and Trinity Graduates with a massive 43 voted in by fellow politicians. 11 will then be nominated by the Taoiseach.
Essentially, what we are creating is an elitist creché, where would be TD’s get elected to the Seanad to play the waiting game to until the next General Election where they will claim superiority over other candidates based on this election to our Seanad. The Seanad has also become a safety net for those who aspired to get elected to the Dáil but failed and look to the Seanad as a means by which to stay relevant.
We must also look at if the election to our Seanad is Democratic. The majority of the Irish population has no say in the election. Our Councillors, some of whom even have up to seven votes get to decide the majority of the make up of the Seanad while some graduates have up to two votes. Is this democracy?
We must demand reform now. How can we do this, through debate and attempting to wrangle the power back from the main political parties who have made the Seanad into one of the most elite boys clubs in Ireland.
- We must demand that the Seanad is elected at the same time as the local elections or general election, removing the ability of those not elected to use the Seanad as a political safety net
- Any Seanator who wishes to run for the Dáil must spend one political cycle outside the Seanad before they run for the Dáil. This will remove the ability of people to use it as an immediate stepping stone, however having the election at the same time as the General or Local Elections would remove much of this by removing the political Safety Net
- Defined Constituencies where candidates must have met pre-requisites before running to for the relevant constituency such as having relevant industry experience
Ultimately we must decide the direction of our Seanad to make sure it is democratic. It is something we should all educate ourselves about. Please comment below with your sentiments and your opinions
On a final note, the Panels where people will be elected to shall be:
- Cultural and Educational
- Industrial and Commercial
- National University of Ireland
A list of candidates can be found here: https://adriankavanaghelections.org/2015/12/22/elections-to-25th-seanad-2016-declared-candidates/