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Senators go to High Court to seek declaration that Seanad can sit without Taoiseach's appointees

There have been concerns that legislation could not be passed without a full complement of senators in place.

A GROUP OF Senators have begun High Court proceedings seeking a declaration that it would be constitutional for the Seanad to sit and pass legislation without the 11 appointees that have to be nominated by the Taoiseach.

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.

Ten Senators – six from Labour and a number of independents – wrote to the Taoiseach earlier this month seeking a date for the first sitting of the new Seanad, without these 11 nominees.

In the letter they stated:

It is our understanding and believe 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 bu the delay in the Dáil’s nomination of a Taoiseach or the delay in nomination of a further eleven senators.

“We note that it is widely reported that you have been advised to the contrary.”

The Senators, in their letter, stated they intended to apply to the High Court for a determination if this was not resolved. 

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.

All ten are named as plaintiffs in the High Court case filed yesterday, represented by the same legal firm, with the Taoiseach and Attorney General listed as defendants. 

Earlier this month Senators Ivana Bacik said the 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”.

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