Get involved in the Seanad elections says local Councillor

by Padraig Conlon
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A local representative has come up with a new way to approach the Seanad election this month.

Unlike Dail Eireann, the Seanad is not directly elected, but consists of a mixture of members chosen by various methods to fill its 60 seats.

Most people are excluded from electing members to the Seanad, and the only people eligible to vote are current TDs, councillors, outgoing Senators, graduates of certain universities, and the Taoiseach.

Now, one local representative has tried a new approach to increase participation in the election.

Cllr Alan Hayes (Ind) says he wants his constituents to take part in a consultation exercise so all their voices can be heard.

He said: “Normally, the procedure followed by all the mainstream parties is for councillors to support the candidates recommended by their parties.

“These are usually people who tried and failed to get elected at the previous general election.

“Graduates of Trinity [College] or the National University of Ireland get to vote on special panels, but people who never got the chance to go to college, or who went to other colleges, such as Technological University Tallaght, are just excluded from the process.”

Cllr Hayes recently organised a community meeting for constituents to identify the issues that matter in their communities.

That meeting was held on Thursday, March 5 in Palmerstown.

Seanad breakdown

According to Cllr Hayes, the issues most important to the people of Palmerstown, Lucan and North Clondalkin are healthcare, school transport, law enforcement, education (including special education places, and support in mainstream education), biodiversity, greenway expansion and facilities for young people.

Cllr Hayes said: “The Seanad has an important role in our democracy.

“Senators can propose legislation and have an important role in holding the Dail to account.

“A few years ago, after the referendum to abolish the Seanad was defeated, all the major parties made a commitment to reform the Seanad and extend the right to vote to more people but, to be honest, the people I represent are tired of waiting for this to happen.

“They have a right for their voices to be heard too, so I am encouraging all residents to contact their local councillors and TDs and ask them how they are casting their vote.

“If you don’t hear your concerns reflected in their choices, let them know about it.

“Afterall, they only have a vote because [the public] elected them to that role.

“If you live or work in South Dublin but you were unable to make the meeting last week, you can contact me by email , at [email protected], if you want your voice to be heard in the upcoming Seanad elections.”

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