Call to enact 30-year-old poll result on Seanad vote

“The Government should enact a 30-year-old referendum result to give all third-level graduates a Seanad vote if it expects the electorate to take part in a second ballot on the Lisbon treaty, a campaign group has claimed.

“The 1979 Seventh Amendment poll to extend Seanad panels to graduates of colleges other than Trinity College Dublin and the four colleges in National University of Ireland was passed by 93% of voters.

“Two Seanad panels with three seats each are currently elected by graduates of TCD and the NUI universities in Dublin (UCD), Cork, Galway and Maynooth.

“But successive governments since then have never implemented the changes, which would give a Seanad vote to about 250,000 graduates of University of Limerick, Dublin City University and the 14 institutes of technology if it was done today.

“Colm Hamrogue, chair of the Graduate Equality Ireland group, which has been lobbying on the issue since 2000, said: ‘It has been proven on issues like Lisbon and the Nice treaty before, that the people will speak up if they want to change something. But they voted in 1979 to change Seanad voting rights and it is ridiculous that it hasn’t been done,’ he said.

“’It is important, with more and more people taking part in third-level education, that they should have a voice in the Seanad through a representative panel,’ Mr Hamrogue said.

“Senator Joe O’Toole, representing the NUI, is calling for a special Seanad sitting in the University of Limerick to mark the 30th anniversary of the referendum. The special sitting is one of a number of moves he is calling for in a bid to initiate numerous reforms of the Seanad, in a motion supported by the other NUI senators and by FG Seanad members.”

[Niall Murray, Irish Examiner, 11 March]

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