Text A for direct elections… An X Factor approach to Seanad reform

One of the more tenuous themes through the election campaign so far has been the parties rush to condemn the Seanad to an early demise.

Are you sitting comfortably?

I wonder if this is not a convenient cloak to avoid the closer to home issues of Dáil reform. Labour proposals today on a four day week, longer sitting periods and a shorter summer recess go some way but this is the sytem we have now and in the great range of things we the electorate have to decide on it is perhapsbest left until after the seats have been taken. I fully appreciate that Turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas and it is good for all of us to get reform credentials locked down before settling in to the plush leather but still, who will change their vote because of a vow to abandon the Seanad.

Having seen the Seanad in action I believe there is a strong case for maintaining a second house. Certainly it needs to be revamped how the Senators are chosen, with panels and very limited electorates hardly conducive to producing the ‘best and brightest’ but if this can be done quickly then it is an important bulwark against the excess of a dominant coalition partnership should one emerge.

We can do without a referendum this year, Enda. Why not pause a while and throw it open to those with an opinion to suggest alternative methods. Take that as the start for possible reform, not the opinion of those whoa are purely on the inside. ‘Your Seanad, Your Call’ has a nice ring to it with the Council of State to determine three possible outcomes and then allow the people to decide between them. We could even get RTE involved in the same way as they selected, with help from paid text messages, the identity of the greatest Irish person. Bringing a touch of the X Factor might not be to everyones liking but then again 100 years ago neither was giving the vote to women.


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