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‘Reflection’ the buzz word but Taoiseach and Tánaiste appear open to Seanad reform

The government must now decide what it plans to do with the retained upper house.

"So, er, what do we do now?"
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated 21.50

THE GOVERNMENT HAS given a strong indication that it may look to reform the Seanad in the wake of the referendum to abolish the upper house being rejected by the people today.

The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste both stressed it was now time to reflect on the result of today’s referendum but appeared open to the possibility that it could be referred to the Constitutional Convention.

Speaking at Dublin Castle, Kenny said: “The process of change in politics is something that we’re going to continue with.”

Kenny said it was important to now assess how best the Seanad can contribute to “that process of reform”.

He continued: “Now that the people have given a very clear decision in respect of the Senate I think it’s important to assess how best the Senate can contribute effectively to that process of reform and I’ll reflect on that over the period ahead.”

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said that discussion of reform had been prominent throughout the referendum campaign and said this should now continue in the wake of the No vote.

“I think the discussion should continue. I mean people have voted to keep the Senate, I don’t think people have voted necessarily for the status quo,” the Labour Party leader said.

“I think the ideas about reform, I think that they should be considered now.”

“This is a reforming government and the ideas for reforming the Senate I think should be discussed more fully now that the referendum is over.”

Gilmore said that referring the matter to the Constitutional Convention “is one option” but said he expected further debate on the matter in the Seanad, Dáil and the wider public.

He also claimed that he was “not disappointed with the result”, adding: ”It’s a decision of the people. The Constitution is the property of the people.”

Read: ‘Sometimes in politics you get a wallop’: Taoiseach on referendum result

WATCH: ‘A great day for Irish democracy’: Senators and Fianna Fáil toast referendum win

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Hugh O'Connell

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