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Senators to seek High Court determination if Taoiseach won't set date for next Seanad sitting

A group of 10 Senators have written to Leo Varadkar urging action two months after the Seanad elections have concluded.

Staff sorting through ballot boxes for the Seanad count in March
Staff sorting through ballot boxes for the Seanad count in March
Image: Rollingnews.ie

A GROUP OF 10 Senators have written to the Taoiseach seeking a date for the first sitting of the new Seanad, without the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees, to allow vital legislation be passed.

The group – which includes Labour’s six Senators and a number of independents – have said they will apply to the High Court for a determination if Leo Varadkar is not willing to advise the president to fix a date for the next Seanad sitting.

Although the Seanad election has been completed, 11 Senators must be chosen by the Taoiseach to complete the 60 seats and there have been concerns that legislation could not be passed without a full complement of senators in place.

The Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl has previously wrote about his concerns in a letter where he said based on legal advice “it is not possible for the current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD to make the eleven nominations”. 

It is believed that the next Taoiseach will appoint these nominees, but talks on government formation between the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens have not yet concluded after several weeks of negotiations.

The group of 10 Senators have said it is urgent that the Seanad sits so that vital legislation can be passed.

Labour’s Ivana Bacik said: “It is our understanding and belief that in the present situation the elected members of the Seanad can meet and legislate, and that the Oireachtas, as our national parliament, exists as a whole and is not debarred from functioning constitutionally as a legislature by the delay in the Dáil’s nomination of a Taoiseach or the delay in nomination of a further eleven senators.

It is now over two months since the Seanad elections concluded, and longer since the Dáil general election, and government formation talks continue with no clear end point.
Our democratic assembly should not be frozen from legislating and there is a looming deadline of the end of June for the review and renewal of certain provisions under the Offences Against the State Acts.

If Varadkar does not set a date, the Senators said they will take the matter to the High Court.

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The ten signatories are Senators Ivana Bacik, Victor Boyhan, Gerard Craughwell, Annie Hoey, Sharon Keogan, Michael McDowell, Rebecca Moynihan, Ronan Mullen, Marie Sherlock, Mark Wall.

Bacik added: “This is an unlikely political alliance but we have come together on this point of law as it is our belief that legal clarification is required on our status.”

You can read the letter here

About the author:

Sean Murray

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