independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Seanad could be reformed by 2022

Madam – I support Elaine Byrne's argument for a revision rather than decommissioning of the Seanad (Sunday Independent, December 30).

Where politics has become fixated on the management of the State rather than a struggle for people's imagination, Ireland could benefit from a second chamber that could debate issues from a non-whipped political party perspective. Rather than the paltry Endian view of the disbandment of the Seanad as the 'central part of political reform', far better embracing the challenge of its transformation into a hub of forward-thinking democracy.

This will entail replacing the current process of insiders voting for insiders with effective procedures to ensure the representation of civic society – the community and voluntary sectors; the arts; business; agriculture, etc. There should be a 50/50 gender balance and age and ethnicity should also be taken into account.

In short, this could be a Chamber of Active Citizens with the remit of not only holding government to account, but also giving due consideration to substantive issues that our current political parties may find too controversial.

It should not be beyond the wit of woman – or even man – to come up with procedures to elect such a chamber, and at the rate political change occurs it could be in place and working by 2022, the centenary year of the first Senate.

Avila Kilmurray,

Belfast

Sunday Independent

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