Saturday 20 April 2019

Graduates' Seanad vote to cost €6.5m

The Irish electorate voted to retain the Seanad last October, giving the chamber a new lease of life
The Irish electorate voted to retain the Seanad last October, giving the chamber a new lease of life

Fionnan Sheahan, Group Political Editor

GIVING a vote in the Seanad elections to every college graduate in the country will cost the taxpayer €6.5m, a confidential Government memo reveals.

That's over €1m for every seat filled by graduate votes.

In the wake of the defeat of the Seanad abolition referendum, the Government announced it would give a vote for the six university seats to every college graduate – beyond the current list of TCD, UCD, UCC, UCG and NUI Maynooth.

The vote will be given to everyone with a degree or equivalent qualification.

But ministers have been informed the creation of a new register of electors will be "a complex task, giving rise to additional costs".

The number of people entitled to a vote would rise from 150,000 to 800,000.

The existing register of electors is maintained using "substantially different systems".

The memo says it may even be necessary to run "two systems in parallel" – one with the old voters and one with the new voters. The cost of administering the last Seanad election, just to fill the six university seats, was €2.6m.

"Given the scale of the task involved in moving from a register of some 151,000 towards one that has upwards of 800,000 voters, the costs may be considerable," the memo says.

The Government is to set up a technical working group to examine the issues around the register and the costs arising.

The memo was on the agenda at yesterday's Cabinet meeting but was deferred for a week.

Irish Independent

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