Monday 16 July 2018

College apartheid continues, 40 years after we voted for change

The University Panel election system is the nearest thing to pocket boroughs we still have

TRINITY: Graduates can vote
TRINITY: Graduates can vote

Gay Mitchell

Few residents of north, west and inner-city Dublin, and similar communities throughout the country, will get to attend NUI or Trinity College Dublin. If you live in Dublin 4, 6, or Dublin South County and some parts of North Dublin, you are many times more likely to go to university than residents of other postal districts. The majority of those who do live in the better-off areas will attend UCD or Trinity. A similar bias exists throughout the country.

Those who do graduate from Trinity and NUI get the opportunity to elect between them six members of Seanad Eireann. The effect of this is as bad as apartheid in other parts of the world. Laws will continue to be disproportionately made by the better off. It is time to end this outrage.

Before the 1832 Reform Act, there was no uniform basis for the parliamentary franchise in the then United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland. Pocket boroughs, that is control of certain constituencies by the influential was, until then, common practice. Almost 200 years later, the University Panel election system as constituted is the nearest thing to pocket boroughs we still have.

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