In December 2014, the Government set up a working group on Seanad reform. The group announced on December 18, 2014 that it would be accepting submissions until January 20, 2015. This was extended to 30 January, 2015 on January 17 but still no substantive public consultation was planned.
We believed that something as fundamental as reform of one of our houses of parliament deserved a more genuine engagement with the public. We also wanted to demonstrate the ease at which effective public consultation can done where there is the will to do so.
So, between 6 January and 23 January, we hosted a public survey on Seanad reform. Over 1,200 people took part. We then submitted the results of that survey as an omnibus public submission to the working group on Seanad reform.
In addition, over 400 public comments are also received. With the agreement of the chairman of the working group, these were included in our submission even where they went beyond the working group’s terms of reference.
The report of the working group was published on 13 April and can be downloaded here. The working group presented their recommendations to the Seanad on 5 May during which the chairman of the group described our work as “a very valuable submission”.
Our completed submission can be read below. Or, to conduct your own analysis, you can download the raw data (anonymized).