Seanad Éireann

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Seanad Éireann
logo Meeting room of the Seanad Éireann
logo Meeting room of the Seanad Éireann
Basic data
Seat: Leinster House ,
MPs: 60
Current legislative period
Last choice: 30.-31. March 2020
Chair: Cathaoirleach
Mark Daly ( FF )
Composition of the Seanad Éireann
Distribution of seats: Government (40)
  • Fianna Fáil 20
  • Fine Gael 16
  • Green Party 4
  • Opposition (20)
  • Sinn Féin 5
  • Labor 5
  • Human Dignity Alliance 1
  • Independent 9
  • Website
    Seanad Éireann

    The Seanad Éireann ( pronunciation : [ ˈʃan̪əd̪ ˈeːɾʲən̪ ], Senate of Ireland ) is the official name of the Irish House of Lords within the Oireachtas , the Parliament of the Republic of Ireland . In contrast to the House of Commons, the Dáil Éireann , the Senate is not directly elected but consists of members who are elected or appointed in various ways. The powers are much less than those of the Dáil; so it is the Senate z. B. only possible to delay a legislative proposal, but not to reject it. The Senate meets at Leinster House in Dublin .


    The Senate consists of 60 members:

    • 11 are appointed by the Prime Minister ( Taoiseach )
    • 6 are elected by the Irish universities (3 each from the National University of Ireland and the University of Dublin )
    • 43 are selected from 5 special nominee groups by a panel of parliamentarians, senate members and local council members. The nominees are divided into groups who are very experienced in the following subjects:
      • Education, arts, Irish language, culture, literature
      • Agriculture, livestock, fishing
      • Workforce
      • Industry and Finance
      • Public administration and social institutions

    Per constitutional election to the Senate must take place no later than 90 days after the general election. The election takes place using the single transferable vote system. Anyone who can also run for the House of Commons can become a member of the Senate, but membership in the House of Commons excludes simultaneous membership in the Senate.

    Party affiliations of the current Senate

    logo Surname Alignment Party chairman /
    party leader
    Number of
    Fianna Fáil logo.svg Fianna Fáil (FF) Irish Republicanism , Conservatism Micheál Martin 20th
    Fine Gael Logo.png Fine Gael (FG) Christian democracy , liberalism Leo Varadkar 16
    Sinn Féin Logo.png Sinn Féin (SF) Irish Republicanism , Democratic Socialism Mary Lou McDonald 5
    The Labor Party (Lab) Social democracy Alan Kelly 5
    Logo Irishgreen.svg Green Party (GP) Green politics Eamon Ryan 4th
    Human Dignity Alliance Conservatism , Religious Rights Rónán Mullen 1
    Independent 9
    total 60


    The powers of the Senate are based on those of the British House of Lords . It was intended from the outset that the Senate should play a more advisory and reviewing role and not be on an equal footing with the House of Commons. Therefore, every law has to be approved by both houses, but the Senate can only postpone it.

    By constitution, the Senate has the following restrictions:

    • In the event that a legislative proposal is approved by the House of Commons and the Senate does not also approve it within 90 days, the Dáil can assume within the following 180 days that this legislative proposal is tolerated.
    • A draft budget must be approved by the Senate within 21 days
    • In the event of an urgent legislative proposal, the time in which the Senate must approve can be shortened by the government in coordination with the President. This does not apply to constitutional amendments.

    However, the Senate also has the following rights to strengthen its position:

    • It can, by resolution, ask the President to set up a committee to decide whether or not a specific bill affects the budget. However, the President can refuse this request.
    • If a majority of the senators and at least a third of the House of Commons are convinced that a bill is of great "national importance", the President can withhold approval of the bill until it is voted in a referendum or by a newly elected House of Commons an election was confirmed.

    The Senate alone sets its “rules of procedure”, determines its President, the Cathaoirleach , sets up its own committees and sends senators to joint meetings of Parliament. A maximum of two senators can be members of the government. The Senate currently has three committees, one of which has two sub-committees:

    • Electoral Committee
    • Procedure and Privilege Committee
      • Subcommittee for Members
      • Senate Reform Subcommittee
    • Senate Members' Interests Committee


    The first parliamentary upper house in Ireland since the Middle Ages was the House of Lords within the Parliament of Ireland . Like its British counterpart, the House of Lords at that time consisted entirely of members of the nobility with hereditary titles. After Parliament was dissolved by the Act of Union in 1800, Ireland did not have a separate parliament until the 20th century.

    In 1919 Irish nationalists introduced an extrajudicial (and unrecognized) parliament under the name Dáil Éireann , which consisted of only one chamber and no upper house. In 1920 the Parliament of Southern Ireland was established by British law and had a House of Lords called the Senate. The Senate of Southern Ireland was made up of a mix of Irish nobles and senators appointed by the government. The Senate first met in 1921 but was boycotted by Irish nationalists so that it was never really able to act. With the introduction of the Irish Free State in 1922, the Senate of Southern Ireland was dissolved.

    Free State Senate (1922–1936)

    The name Seanad Éireann was first used as the name of the House of Lords of the Irish Free State. The first Senate consisted of a mixture of persons appointed directly by the President of the Executive Council or indirectly elected by the House of Commons. It was intended that the Senate should ultimately be elected directly by the people, but after the first of these direct elections, the system was abolished again and replaced by an indirect election. The Free State was dissolved in 1936.

    The modern Senate since 1937

    The modern Senate was created by the Irish Constitution in 1937. This Senate was the direct successor to the Free State Senate, so that the first Senate under the new constitution was called "Second Seanad" (Second Senate).

    The new system of dividing candidates into professional groups was influenced by Roman Catholic social doctrine of the 1930s, particularly the encyclical Quadragesimo anno by Pope Pius XI. which was directed against the Marxist concept of class conflicts and aimed at a social order based on cooperation and mutual dependence of professional groups.

    Reform efforts

    Since 1928 there have been twelve independent reports on reforms due in the Senate, in which u. a. the abolition of the House of Lords was also called for. The criticism of the Senate after 1937 has a number of reasons: The Senate is considered "weak" and dominated by the government. There are also allegations of “nepotism” in the appointment of its members, since senators were often close confidants of the Taoiseach or unelected Dáil members.

    Furthermore, it is largely agreed that the choice of occupational groups does not work as it was originally intended. It is often argued that many of the candidates do not have adequate knowledge of their assigned group and that party affiliations continue to dominate the nomination process.

    Universities have a long tradition of selecting independent candidates. But here too, critics counter that the university system for selecting senators is elitist. Interest groups, such as Graduate Equality , demand that the right to vote should also be extended to the lower-ranking educational institutions. For others this suggestion does not go far enough; they require that at least part of the Senate be directly elected by the people and that Irish emigrants or the people of Northern Ireland also be considered. In the past, prime ministers often included respected people from Northern Ireland among their candidates, e.g. B. Gordon Wilson , Seamus Mallon or Joe Hendron .

    The exact composition of the Senate was originally determined by the constitution. In 1979, the seventh constitutional amendment granted parliament the right to extend the right to vote at universities to include those at other educational institutions. The idea was that all higher education institutions should have the right to vote in the Senate election, but to date this law has not been introduced.

    The current report on the Senate dates from April 2004 and was prepared by a subcommittee of the Senate. But the “Report on Senate Reforms”, which had better chances of success than its predecessors, did not recommend any fundamental changes to the powers of the House of Lords. It was suggested, however, that the election by professional groups should be abolished, 32 seats should be filled by direct election, the election in the universities should be extended to all academic institutions and that the Taoiseach should be formally encouraged to use its votes for a representation of Northern Ireland to ensure the Church and other minorities. Another suggestion is to give the Senate new tasks, e.g. B. a bigger role in government review and EU legislation .

    2013 referendum

    After the 2011 general election , Fine Gael and the Labor Party formed a joint government. In the associated coalition agreement, it was agreed to abolish the Senate. After the corresponding bill had found a parliamentary majority, it was submitted to the population for a vote in a referendum on October 4, 2013. Prime Minister Enda Kenny said ahead of the vote that the Senate was an outmoded and ineffective institution that was more in line with the political ideas of the 1930s. Fianna Fáil spoke out against the abolition and instead advocated reform of the House of Lords. In the referendum, 51.7 percent voted against abolishing the Senate, while only 48.3 percent supported it.

    Famous Irish Senators

    Web links

    Commons : Seanad Éireann  - collection of images, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ Coalition agreement on the Fine Gael website, PDF file, 2.6 MB (English) ( Memento from July 21, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
    2. Arthur Beesley: Referendum campaign to scrap Seanad begins . The Irish Times , June 6, 2013, accessed September 21, 2013
    3. Irish reject the abolition of the Senate by referendum , AFP report on yahoo .com, October 5, 2013