Image via WikipediaNext year sees the 30th Anniversary of the Seventh Amendment to the Irish Constitution. The Amendment was approved by referendum on 5 July 1979 and signed into law on the 3 August of the same year. A whopping 92.4% of the electorate voted for the amendment, yet to this day it remains inacted. The seventh amendment allowed for changes in the how the Seanad University Seats were filled and allowed for graduates of other institutions of higher education to vote for the Seanad.
The text of Article 18.4 of the Irish Constitution after the passing of the Seventh Amendment is as follows (new text is in bold):
1. The elected members of Seanad Éireann shall be elected as follows:
i. Three shall be elected by the National University of Ireland.
ii. Three shall be elected by the University of Dublin.
iii. Forty-three shall be elected from panels of candidates constituted as hereinafter provided.
2. Provision may be made by law for the election, on a franchise and in the manner to be provided by law, by one or more of the following institutions, namely:
i. the universities mentioned in subsection 1 of this section,
ii. any other institutions of higher education in the State, of so many members of Seanad Éireann as may be fixed by law in substitution for an equal number of the members to be elected pursuant to paragraphs i and ii of the said subsection 1.
A member or members of Seanad Éireann may be elected under this subsection by institutions grouped together or by a single institution.
3. Nothing in this Article shall be invoked to prohibit the dissolution by law of a university mentioned in subsection 1 of this section.
In its 30 years in the Constitution no Government has taken up on this amendment and passed a law to expand the franchise beyond TCD and the NUI Universities. Which is unusual.
The reason I blog about this is that I recently came across a Facebook group “Seanad Reform – After 30 years can we have our votes now?” calling for the franchise to be expanded. Will the current Government expand the vote to IT’s and UL? I doubt it, but I think it is something that should be looked at in terms of reform of the Seanad without having to have a referendum on it.