We believe that Ireland needs a democratic and effective second chamber. This means that the Seanad needs to be thoroughly reformed.
The proposal to abolish the Seanad, now part of the Programme for Government, was announced without any serious discussion on how a reformed Seanad could strengthen democracy and lead to better scrutiny of decisions.
There has been a lot of talk about reform in the Seanad campaign, but little discussion about what this actually means.
It would be useful for those of us who favour Seanad reform to agree on some basic principles from which we can start a debate on the actual mechanisms for their implementation.
We propose the following six principles: A reformed Senate should be elected by all of the people; senators should continue to have a national, not local, remit; emigrants who are Irish citizens should be represented in the Seanad; candidates should be prohibited from standing for both Dáil and Seanad within a set number of years; a reformed Senate should have strengthened powers of inquiry and a specific remit to hold hearings to scrutinise key public appointments, the process for allocating major state contacts and important public policy decisions; a reformed Seanad should be gender balanced; we would welcome the views of other candidates and the public generally, so that we can establish the common ground for a campaign for an effective, democratic Seanad.
Peter Mooney, (NUI Panel ) Senate Candidate,
Robin Hanan (Trinity Panel ), Trinity Senate Candidate,
Seamus Boland, (Administrative Panel ),
Independent candidates for Seanad Éireann.