The Government of Ireland is split into two houses. The first House is the Dail where politicians make important and not so important decisions and talk endlessly on matters of State. The second House is the Seanad. This is a little known and secretive group of people who are elected in a complicated election by a small subset of the Irish public.
Who can vote for the Seanad? If you went to University you can, so my wife Jacinta can. She filled in her ballot sheet this morning and while she was wondering who to give her No. 1 vote to I read the newspaper and came across Kathy Foley’s article in the Sunday Times, So what is the Seand for? It’s a very entertaining and cutting look at the Seanad and if you’ve wondered about them you should go read it in full. Here’s a taster for you on this Saturday afternoon:
What happens in the Seanad?
Very little. Senators sit about on comfy leather seats and engage in witty badinage. Unlike the upper houses of parliament in other countries, our senate cannot veto bills from the lower house. It can merely delay them a little. If the Dail passed a bill forcing all citizens to wear yellow hats and blue shoes, the Seanad could object in the strongest possible terms and put the whole plan off for a few weeks. That would give us just enough time to dye our hats and spray paint our shoes.
Sometimes our senators go to America, where they are celebrated everywhere they go. This is because Americans confuse their sort of senators, who are very influential, with our sort, who aren’t.
So there you have it folks. Don’t feel too bad if you can’t vote, but do feel bad if you can’t get a nomination to stand for a €60,000 a year, 2 day a week job.
3 thoughts on “So what is the Seanad for anyway?”
As she points out in her article you have to go to specific universities to be able to vote (and then only for the university seats).
I like the idea of reserving seats for various groups. Not the way the Seanad does it, but a grouping other than geographical for a legislative body would be nice.
It’s a pretty interesting article.
I love the way she describes the them as a “Cross between freemasonry and Toastmasters International.” Quite an apt description!
But hopefully without the handshakes and secret passwords!