Political Reform

I fought for Seanad Reform since my first day as Senator and worked to secure cross-party legislation that delivers a universal franchise.

I am determined to get that legislation passed. I have also pressed for a new Electoral Commission and spoken out on the politics of division. I established the Civil Engagement Group to bring diverse perspectives into policy-making and co-sponsored the Disability and Community Participation Bill, because public spaces are better when we all share and shape them. 

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Public Consultation on the General Scheme for the Seanad Electoral (University Members) (Amendment) Bill 2024

We welcome the opportunity to engage in this consultation and urge that the Department would provide further opportunities for engagement at later stages. At the outset we must signify our total opposition to this draft Bill as it falls far short of the blueprint for real Seanad reform that has been agreed on a cross-party agreement.

The first portion of our submission deals with the broader questions and the second part deals with the very significant problems with the Bill as drafted.

We are of the view that:

  • The Government’s Bill should be discarded in favour of the Seanad Bill 2020; and
  • The Government’s Bill contains numerous problematic provisions which will limit democratic participation in Seanad elections.

The Seanad Franchise:

The question of the implementation of the seventh amendment of the Constitution cannot sit in isolation from the wider question of Seanad reform. The Supreme Court ruling confirms that action must be taken. However, a minimalist approach to legislating on this issue would not be true to the spirit of either the 1979 or 2013 referenda – in which the public clearly called for reform.

The public voted in the 2013 referendum for a reformed Seanad and the 2015 Report of the Working Group on Seanad Reform (the Manning Report) clearly recommended that “a majority of the Panel seats be elected by popular vote on the principle of one person one vote.”

Senator Higgins welcomes Supreme Court ruling on seventh amendment and urges Government to enact Seanad Bill 2020

NUI Senator Alice-Mary Higgins has today welcomed the Supreme Court ruling on the need to legislate for the seventh amendment to the Constitution and is urging the Government to enact the Seanad Bill 2020 introduced by Senator Higgins and Senator Michael McDowell.

Speaking after today’s ruling, Senator Higgins commended Tomas Heneghan for taking the case and said: “Today’s ruling underscores the urgent need for Seanad reform. That reform must be ambitious and comprehensive. The failure to legislate for the 1979 referendum reflects a wider history of evasion and delays around meaningful Seanad reform by successive governments over many decades.

Winter Newsletter December 2022

Dear Friends,

This newsletter comes at a time when people in Ireland and across the world are navigating many interconnected challenges.In Ireland, the increases in cost of living have deepened existing inequalities in our society and highlighted underinvestment in public housing and public services.

Globally, conflict has layered further difficulties on top of an accelerating climate crisis. Following four years of drought, the Horn of Africa is facing a devastating famine. This is not just a tragedy, it is an injustice. Africa as a continent produces less than 4% of global carbon emissions, yet billions there are now at risk from the rise in global temperatures.

Seanad 100 and Seanad Reform

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of Seanad Éireann and there have been many events to mark the occasion and reflect upon the Seanad’s contribution to public life in Ireland, particularly its track record as a platform for minority voices and a driver of major social change. One focus for me has been the need to reform the Seanad electoral franchise so that all citizens have the right to vote for their Senators and help shape the next 100 years. If you would like to know more about Seanad 100 or even arrange a visit, please do get in touch with my office!