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Kenny: I've a busy schedule but I'll talk about Seanad reform as soon as I can

The Taoiseach has proposed all-party talks involving leaders in the Dáil and Seanad on what to do with the upper house.

Enda Kenny in the Dáil today
Enda Kenny in the Dáil today
Image: Screengrab

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has pledged to hold all-party talks on the future of the Seanad as soon as he can in the wake of the referendum to abolish the upper house being defeated.

Speaking at Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon Kenny proposed a meeting between the leaders of all parties both in the Dáil and Seanad to have a “meaningful discussion about what is best to do”.

He said he has a busy schedule but will engage with the leaders in both houses of the Oireachtas “as early as I can” to see “what is the best thing that we can do now in terms of making it [the Seanad] effective”.

Kenny was asked about reform by the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who pressed him to consider the Seanad Reform Bill that independent TD Shane Ross has placed on the Dáil order paper.

But the Taoiseach said there were a number of reform proposals that he wanted to consider including those put forward by Senators Feargal Quinn and Katherine Zappone as well as another proposal from Senator John Crown.

He suggested that the government could potentially legislate to allow all third-level graduates a vote in Seanad elections.

“I’ll initiate meaningful, comprehensive, thorough, fulsome discussions with everybody as soon as I can,” Kenny said, adding: “I’ve got a pretty busy schedule.”.

He added that any reform proposals would not be “as daft as some of the ones in the past” noting a proposal from former Fianna Fáil minister and senator Mary O’Rourke “to have 100 senators”.

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Earlier Martin said that in rejecting the referendum last Friday voters “gave you, in your own words, one hell of a wallop”.

But Kenny sought to correct Martin, saying: “I said this was a wallop, not ‘one hell of a wallop’. Get your words right.”

More: “No bloody hope will I work for nothing” – David Norris

Read: Everyone’s talking about reforming the Seanad, but how could we do it?

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Hugh O'Connell

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