[Sinn Fein]

14th July 2003

Doherty calls for all citizens to be allowed vote in future Seanad elections

Sinn Fein Vice President and West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty speaking following the launch of the party's submission to the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Seanad Reform called for citizens of all the 32 Counties, over the age of 16 years, to be allowed vote in future Seanad elections.

Mr. Doherty said: ``Sinn Fein believes that there is a need for the complete overhaul of the Seanad to make it democratic, accountable and relevant. We propose that it is transformed in terms of its membership, its electorate and what it is responsible for.

``We believe that the Seanad should be elected by universal suffrage of citizens of all the 32 counties of Ireland and those resident here for more than 5 years who are over the age of 16 years. Pending the reintegration of the national territory citizens resident in the 6 counties would cast their ballot by postal vote. Emigrants registered with their appropriate Irish Embassy or consulate would be entitled to vote.

``The main function of the Seanad would be scrutiny of national and EU legislation. Senators should be elected from sectoral panels rather than on a party political basis, with these panels representing the community and voluntary sector, culture and education, regional, industrial and commercial and agriculture and fisheries. In order to address the under-representation of women, quotas of at least 30% should operate across each panel.

``Now is the time to overhaul the Seanad as the second house of the Oireachtas. It is time that it is elected by people from across the island and it is time for its members to be truly representative of the entire country and not elites within it.''

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