If you’ve been online in the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard of the Seanad. But what is it? How does it work? Can you find toilet roll there? (probably) We reveal it all. Here’s all you need to know about the Seanad.
What is the Seanad?
The Seanad is the upper house of the Houses of the Oireachtas. The main function of the Seanad is to debate legislation proposed by the Government. Senators can also introduce their own Bills, which are debated in the Seanad and, if passed, are then debated in the Dáil.
The voting system used to elect Senators has been criticized by several groups, including the Seanad Reform group, who brand it elitist and unfair. The group has been asking candidates for the Seanad to sign their Seanad Reform Pledge, which reads: “If elected to the 26th Seanad, I pledge: to pursue and vote for the enactment of the Seanad Bill 2018 as an immediate priority.”
The proposed bill would allow all Irish citizens to have a vote for the Seanad and enact the 7th Amendment to the Constitution, which would “extend Seanad representation to graduates of other third-level institutions”. The amendment was passed in a referendum with over 90% of the vote in 1979.
How many seats are in the Seanad and how are they elected?
There are 60 seats in the Seanad. Of those 60, 6 are elected by university graduates – 3 are elected from Trinity College Dublin and 3 are elected from NUI (NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway, University College Cork and University College Dublin).
43 Senators are elected by vocational panels. There are 5 panels.
- Cultural & Educational: 5 Senators are elected from this panel
- Administrative: 7 Senators are elected from this panel
- Industrial & Commercial: 9 Senators are elected from this panel
- Agricultural: 11 Senators are elected from this panel
- Labour: 11 Senators are elected from this panel
These panels have 2 sub-panels, one where bodies nominate candidates & another where incoming TD’s and outgoing Senators nominate candidates.
Who gets to elect candidates from the panels?
- All county and city councillors (949 councillors)
- All outgoing senators (60 senators)
- All incoming TD’s (160 TD’s)
Who gets to elect people from the NUI and Trinity panels & how does it work?
Graduates from NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway, University College Cork and University College Dublin get to elect people from the NUI panel. Graduates from Trinity can vote for candidates on the Trinity panel. Their vote comes in the post, and they return it by post. You will need a witness, it can be anyone who is over 18.
Who is running for the NUI panel?
|Ali O’Shea, Abbas||Director of AFA Consultancy|
|Butler, Jennifer||Academic – University Lecturer|
|Coppinger, Ruth||Teacher, Campaigner for Workers’ and Womens Rights and Climate Justice|
|Delahunty, Eoin||Operations Manager|
|Devine, Karen||University Lecturer|
|Dowling, Eva Elizabeth||Science Communicator and County Councillor|
|Finn, Mick||Youth Officer, Cork ETB: Cork City Cllr (Ind); Former Lord Mayor, Cork City (2018/19)|
|Finnegan, Peter||Change Leader, Member Maynooth University Governing Authority; Meditator; Poet|
|Harmon, Laura||Leadership Coordinator, National Women’s Council of Ireland|
|Healy, Michelle||Member of University College Cork Governing Body; Project Manager|
|Hearne, Rory||Lecturer/Assistant Professor Social Policy, Maynooth University|
|Higgins, Alice-Mary||Senator, Advocate for Equality and Environment|
|Matthews, Marcus||Managing Director|
|McDowell, Michael||Senator and Senior Counsel|
|Mullen, Rónán Thomas||Full-time Public representative (Senator)|
|Price, Brendan Mary||B. Agr. Sc, member, Biol. Inst. Ireland; CEO Irish Seal Sanctuary|
|Scanlon, Keith||Electric and Electronic Engineer|
|Staunton Barrett, Anne||Retailer with a Degree in Management Information Systems, NUI Galway|
The Poll will close on Tuesday 31 March at 11.00am.
Who is running for the Trinity panel?
|Ali O’Shea, Abbas||Director of AFA Consultancy|
|Byrne, Derek||Academic/Media Professional|
|Clonan, Tom||Academic, Journalist|
|MacNeill, Hugo||Consultant, Non Profit|
|O’Gorman, Joseph||Company Director/Administrator, Central Societies Committee, Trinity|
|Priestly, William||Green Party County Councillor|
|Ruane, Lynn||Public Representative|
|Scanlon, Keith||Electrical and Electronic Engineer|
Who is running for the Cultural and Educational panel?
Nominating Bodies Sub-panel
|Byrne, Malcolm||Head of Communications Higher Education Authority; Former Dáil Deputy.||The Drama League of Ireland|
|Conroy, Deirdre||Councillor, Barrister, Architectural Historian.||The Irish Georgian Society; The Council of the Bar of Ireland|
|Conway, Joe||College Tutor; City and County Councillor||Genealogical Society of Ireland & Teacher’s Union of Ireland|
|Curley, Shane||Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland.||Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland.|
|Feeney, Kate||County Councillor; Chartered Accountant||Institute of Guidance Counsellors|
|Flynn, Angela||President of the Irish Federation of University Teachers||Irish Federation of University Teachers|
|Kyne, Seán||Aire Stáit don Ghaeilge, don Ghaeltacht agus do na hOileáin; Seanadóir.||Údarás na Gaeltachta|
|Maher, Michael “Moegie”||Chairperson of Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board||Education and Training Boards Ireland|
|McFadden, Gabrielle||Senator.||Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland|
|Mulcahy, Jack||Publisher of Arts and Literacy related Publications||Writers’ Guild of Ireland|
|Newman Julian, Mary||Veterinary Practitioner||Comhairle na d’Tréidlia Veterinary Council|
|Walsh, Éamonn||Abhcóide; MA sa Gaeilge Fheidhmeach||Gael Linn CTR|
|Warfield, Fintan||Senator; Musician||National Youth Council of Ireland;|
Comhlámh & Theatre Forum CLG.
|Breathnach, Declan||Former Dáil Deputy; Former County|
Councillor; Primary School Principal.
|Deputies Willie O’Dea, Thomas Byrne|
and Anne Rabbitte and Senator Aidan
|Chambers, Lisa||Former Dáil Deputy; Former County|
|Deputies Dara Calleary, James O’Connor|
and Niamh Smyth and Senator Paul Daly
|Lawless, Paul||Teacher.||Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill, Deputies|
Carol Nolan, Cathal Berry and Peadar
|McGahon, John||Public Representative.||Deputies Colm Brophy, Martin Heydon,|
Alan Farrell and Charles Flanagan.
|McHugh, Saoirse||Environmentalist.||Deputies Marc Ó Cathasaigh, Eamon|
Ryan, Neasa Hourigan and Malcolm
|Murphy O’Mahony, Margaret||Former Dáil Deputy, Former SNA.||Deputies Pádraig O’Sullivan, Jackie|
Cahill, Mary Butler and Barry Cowen
|Neville, Tom||Former Dáil Deputy; Actor; Former|
|Senators Tim Lombard, Gabrielle|
McFadden and Maria Byrne and Deputy Paul Kehoe.
Who is running for the Agricultural panel?
Nominating Bodies Sub-panel
|Blaney, Niall||Former Farmer, Former Dáil Deputy and Councillor.||National Association of Regional Game Councils.|
|Burke, Paddy||Senator.||Irish Co-operative Organisation Society Limited.|
|Byrne, Maria||S||Irish Grain and Feed Association.|
|Cantillion, Dermot||Farmer, BAgSc MSc.||The Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.|
|Coyle, Seamus||Member of Monaghan County Council.||The Dairy Executives’ Association.|
|Daly, Paul||Senator; Farmer.||Agricultural Science Association.|
|Deering, Pat||Public Representative.||The Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.|
|Hannigan, Dominic||Whiskey Distiller; Livestock feed provider; Former Public Representative; Professional Engineer.||Irish Grain and Feed Association.|
|Lombard, Tim||Senator.||Munster Agricultural Society Company Ltd.|
|Marshall, Ian||Senator;Farmer; Agri-Specialist.||Agricultural Science Association.|
|McEillistrim, Thomas||Farmer; Former Public Representative.||National Association of Regional Game|
|Mulcahy, Richard||Businessman; Farmer.||Royal Dublin Society.|
|Ó Domhnaill, Brian||Senator.||Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders|
|O’Donovan, Denis||Senator.||Munster Agricultural Society Company Ltd & Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders|
|O’Keeffe, Kevin||Former Dáil Deputy.||The Dairy Executives’ Association.|
|O’Reilly, Shane P.||Member of Cavan County Council.||Irish Co-operative Organization Society Limited.|
|Boyhan, Victor||Senator; Horticulturist.||Senators Michael McDowell, David|
Norris, Billy Lawless and Victor Boyhan
|Boylan, Lynn||Ecologist; Former MEP.||Deputies David Cullinane, Donnchadh|
Ó Laoghaire, Martin Browne and Sorca
|D’Arcy, Michael||Farmer; Former Dáil Deputy.||Deputies Joe Carey, Brendan Griffin and|
Peter Burke and Senator Maura Hopkins.
|Dolan, Aisling||County Councillor; Project Manager NUI|
|Deputies Michael Ring, John Paul Phelan|
and Ciarán Cannon and Senator Paul
|Hackett, Pippa||Farmer; Senator.||Deputies Steven Matthews, Francis Noel|
Duffy and Patrick Costello and Senator
|Hoey, Annie||Public Representative.||Senators Kevin Humphreys and Ivana|
Bacik and Deputies Paul Donnelly and
|Kent, Patrick||Farmer.||Deputies Verona Murphy, Matt Shanahan,|
Richard O’Donoghue and Michael
|Murphy, Eugene||Former Dáil Deputy, Former County Councillor.||Deputies James Lawless, John|
McGuinness and Éamon Ó Cúiv and
Senator Gerry Horkan.
|Murray, Gerry||Member of Mayo County Council.||Deputies Louise O’Reilly, Pearse Doherty,|
Matt Carthy and Dessie Ellis.
Who is running for the Labour panel?
Nominating Bodies Sub-panel
|Craughwell, Gerard||Senator; Teacher.||The Irish Conference of Professional and Service Associations.|
|Gallagher, Robbie||Senator; Estate Agent.||The Irish Conference of Professional and Service Associations.|
|Gavan, Paul||Senator.||Irish Congress of Trade Unions.|
|Hanafin, John||Financial Broker; Barrister at Law.||The Irish Conference of Professional and Service Associations.|
|Harkin-Kelly, Martina||President of INMO; Member of INMO National Executive Council; Member of ICTU Women’s Committee.||Irish Congress of Trade Unions.|
|Leyden, Orla||Councillor.||The Irish Conference of Professional and Service Associations.|
|O’Rourke, Aengus||Councillor.||The Irish Conference of Professional|
and Service Associations.
|O’Sullivan, Ned||Senator; Teacher.||The Irish Conference of Professional and Service Associations.|
|Sherlock, Marie||City Councillor, Head of Equality and Policy at SIPTU||Irish Congress of Trade Unions.|
|Symth, Michael||Senior Vice President of Fórsa Trade Union, Co-ordinator School Completion Programme in|
|Irish Congress of Trade Unions.|
|Walshe, Sarah||Public Servant; Ex Officer; Complaints Manager|
|The Irish Conference of Professional and Service Associations.|
|Buttimer, Jerry||Senator; Teacher.||Deputy Eoghan Murphy, Senators John|
O’Mahony, Michelle Mulherin and Paudie
|Casey, Pat||Former Dáil Deputy; Former County|
|Deputies James Browne, Jim O’Callaghan,|
Joe Flaherty and Seán Haughey.
|Cassels, Shane||Former Dáil Deputy; Former County|
|Deputies Charlie McConalogue, Jack|
Chambers, Cathal Crowe and Stephen
|Cummins, John||Teacher; Councillor.||Deputies Hildegarde Naughton, Josepha|
Madigan and Helen McEntee and Senator
|Devine, Máire||Senator.||Deputies Kathleen Funchion, Rose Conway-Walsh, Seán Crowe and Johnny Guirke.|
|Flynn, Eileen||National Development Officer with|
National Traveller Women’s Forum
|Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett, Bríd Smith,|
Gino Kenny and Thomas Pringle.
|O’Reilly, Joe||Senator; Former Teacher.||Senators Seán Kyne, Jerry Buttimer, Marie-Louise O’Donnell and Paddy Burke.|
|O’Reilly, Pauline||City Councillor.||Deputies Catherine Martin, Ossian Smyth,|
Brian Leddin and Joe O’Brien.
Who is running for the Industrial and Commercial Panel?
Nominating Bodies Sub-panel
|Allen, Declan James||TU Dublin Senior Lecturer in Logistics and Worldskills Expert.||Freight Transport Association Ireland CLG.|
|Blain, Emma||County Councillor.||The Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland.|
|Byrne, Danny||City Councillor.||Irish Road Haulage Association.|
|Collins, Áine||Former Dáil Deputy; Certified Public Accountant; Chairperson British Irish Trade Alliance (BITA).||The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland.|
|Connor-Scarteen, Patrick||County Councillor; Estate Agent; Qualified Financial Advisor; Solicitor.||The Association of Advertisers in Ireland Limited.|
|Corr, Joe||Town Planner; Former County Councillor; Past President Irish Planning Institute.||Irish Planning Institute; The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland; Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.|
|Crowe, Ollie||Public Representative; Businessman.||Vintners’ Federation of Ireland Limited.|
|Davitt, Aidan||Senator; Auctioneer.||The Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers.|
|Dooley, Timmy||Former Public Representative.||Nursing Homes Ireland; Independent Broadcasters of Ireland; The Irish Postmasters’ Union; The Restaurants Association of Ireland; The Construction Industry Federation.|
|Geoghegan, James||Former Public Representative.||ISME: Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association.|
|Griffin, Arthur||Barrister; Former Company Director.||The Irish Computer Society;|
Hardware Association Ireland;
Irish Business and Employers Confederation
|Horkan, Gerry||Senator; Chartered Accountant.||Licensed Vintners’ Association.|
|Hunt, Patrick||Chartered Engineer and Fellow of|
Engineers Ireland; Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer
|The Institution of Engineers of Ireland.|
|Hynes, Pat||County Councillor; Former Business|
Owner; Member of Institute of Industrial
|Institute of Industrial Engineers.|
|Kelleher, Garret||Cork City Councillor.||Retail Excellence.|
|Kinsella, Patrick||Self-employed Entrepreneur.||National Off-Licence Association.|
|MacSharry, Tom||Public Representative; Solicitor.||The Chambers of Commerce of Ireland CLG|
t/a Chambers Ireland;
Wholesale Produce Ireland;
Credit Union Development Association Cooperative Society Ltd. (CUDA).
|Noone, Catherine||Senator.||Irish Country Houses and Restaurants|
|O’Brien, Patsy||Councillor, Company Director.||The Electrical Industries Federation of|
|O’Shea Farren, Linda||Arts Manager; Disability Rights and Equality Lawyer; Company Director.||Cumann na nGníomhairí Paitinne agus|
Marcanna Trádála (Association of Patent
and Trade Mark Attorneys).
|Sheahan, Tom||Former Public Representative; Business owner.||The Society of the Irish Motor Industry.|
|Timmins, Edward||County Councillor; Chartered Accountant.||Irish Exporters Association Limited.|
|Vaughan, Michael Anthony||Proprietor Vaughan Lodge Hotel; Former|
President of the Irish Hotels Federation.
|Irish Hotels Federation;|
Irish Tourism Industry Confederation;
Irish Hospitality Institute;
The Caravan Camping and Mobile Home
|Ward, Barry||Public Representative; Barrister.||RGDATA-Retail, Grocery, Dairy and Allied|
Oireachtas sub panel
|Ardagh, Catherine||Senator; Former City Councillor.||Deputies Niall Collins and Michael McGrath, Senators Catherine Ardagh and Terry Leyden.|
|Black, Francis||CEO of the Rise Foundation; Senator; Professional Singer.||Senators Colette Kelleher, Lynn Ruane, Alice-Mary Higgins and Frances Black.|
|Carrigy, Micheál||Postmaster; County Councillor.||Deputies Neale Richmond, Fergus O’Dowd and Damien English and Senator Joe O’Reilly.|
|Dineen, Nigel||County Councillor.||Deputies Michael Fitzmaurice and Marian Harkin, Senators Rónán Mullen and Ian Marshall.|
|Keogan, Sharon||Businesswoman, Public Representative.||Senators Gerard P. Craughwell and Joan Freeman, Deputies Mattie McGrath and Peter Fitzpatrick.|
|McCallion, Elisha||Former MP for Foyle.||Deputies Pauline Tully, Chris Andrews, Martin Kenny and Eoin Ó Broin.|
|O’Shea, John Paul||Public Representative.||Deputies Michael Creed, Simon Coveney, Simon Harris and Paschal Donohoe.|
|Ó Tuathail, Niall||Healthcare Reform Advisor.||Deputies Catherine Murphy, Róisín Shortall,|
Jennifer Whitmore and Holly Cairns.
|Tolan, Sharon||County Councillor.||Senators Martin Conway and James Reilly,|
Deputies Colm Burke and Bernard Durkan.
|Wall, Mark||Public Representative||Deputies Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Alan Kelly,|
Seán Sherlock and Michael McNamara.
Who is running for the Administrative panel?
Nominating Bodies sub-panel
|Cahill, Mick||County Councillor.||Association of Irish Local Government.|
|Conama, John Bosco||Deaf; Irish Sign Language User;|
Academic; Assistant Professor TCD.
|National Association for the Deaf;|
Irish Deaf Society – National Association of
|Conway, Martin||Senator.||National Council for the Blind.|
|Daly, Mark||Senator.||The Irish Kidney Association Company|
|Dolan, John||Person with a disability; CEO Disability|
Federation of Ireland; Senator.
|Disability Federation of Ireland;|
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland;
Enable Ireland Disability Services Limited;
Care Alliance Ireland;
Central Remedial Clinic;
Inclusion Ireland – National Association for
People with an Intellectual Disability;
|Flanagan, Anne-Marie||Mental Health Professional; Social Justice|
|Centre for Independent Living Limited.|
|Geoghegan, Tony||Former CEO of Merchants Quay Ireland;|
Human Rights Commissioner.
|Co-operative Housing Ireland Society Ltd.|
|Malone, Joe||County Councillor Kilkenny County|
|Local Authority Members’ Association.|
|Mbugua Henry, Salome||CEO Migrant Women’s Network in|
|The Immigrant Council of Ireland.|
|O’Loughlin, Fiona||Former Dáil Deputy;|
Primary School Teacher.
|The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.|
|Ahearn, Garret||County Councillor.||Deputies Kieran O’Donnell, David Stanton, Heather Humphreys and Patrick O’Donovan.|
|Clifford-Lee, Lorraine||Senator; Solicitor.||Deputies Michael Moynihan, Micheál Martin, John Lahart and Robert Troy.|
|Currie, Emer||County Councillor.||Deputies Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, Alan Dillon, Frank Feighan and Emer Higgins.|
|Hogan, Timothy J.||Human Rights Activist; Community Development Co-ordinator.||Deputies Mick Barry, Joan Collins, Paul Murphy and Catherine Connolly.|
|Moynihan, Rebecca||Dublin City Councillor; Teacher.||Deputies Ged Nash, Brendan Howlin, Denise Mitchell and Roderic O’Gorman.|
|Ó Donnghaile, Niall||Senator.||Deputies Darren O’Rourke, Claire Kerrane, Imelda Munster and Ruairí Ó Murchú.|
|Rock, Noel||Former Dáil Deputy.||Deputies Joe McHugh, Leo Varadkar and Richard Bruton and Senator Catherine Noone.|
|Welby, Thomas J||Public Representative.||Deputies Denis Naughten, Michael Healy- Rae, Michael Lowry and Noel Grealish.|
|Wilson, Diarmuid||Senator.||Senators Robbie Gallagher, Diarmuid Wilson and Keith Swanick and Deputy Brendan Smith.|
Can the caretaker Taoiseach appoint Senators?
No. Leo Varadkar and his government resigned after the vote in the Dáil back in February, when no party leader was elected as Taoiseach. In accordance with Article 28.11 of the Constitution, although he has resigned – he remains Taoiseach and his Ministers remain in government until a new government is appointed.
Think of it as you’ve resigned from your workplace, but your boss asks you to stay on until they find a replacement. You’re there until someone replaces you. Now your boss tells you, you can’t make some decisions that you could make before.
That’s what’s happening here. Leo’s still the Taoiseach, but he’s kinda not. He can’t appoint members to the Seanad, but he can still lead the country’s response to Covid-19.
However, if Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil form a coalition government as is currently being speculated and Varadkar remains Taoiseach, then he can appoint members to the Seanad. In his current situation however, he can’t.