Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Darragh O’Brien has announced the timeline for the Seanad by-election to fill a seat on the University of Dublin panel.
Nominations will close on February 11. Postal ballots will be sent out to registered voters on February 25 and must be submitted by March 30.
A seat on the panel opened up last year when former Senator Ivana Bacik won a Dáil by-election in the Dublin Bay South constituency. The panel of three senators is elected by a register which all graduates of Trinity are eligible to be members of. The two incumbent senators on the panel are David Norris and Lynn Ruane.
Numerous people have announced their intention to run for the seat over the past few months, including Graduates Students’ Union President Gisèle Scanlon, journalist Ray Bassett, PhD student Ryan Alberto Ó Giobúin, barrister Ade Oluborode, social worker Eoin Barry, PhD student Ursula Quill, and former Councillor Sadhbh O’Neill.
The six senators elected in two panels by graduates of Trinity and National University of Ireland are the only members of the sixty-seat Seanad elected directly. The rest are appointed by the Taoiseach and by an electorate of TDs, outgoing senators, and city and county councillors.
The upper house of the Oireachtas has very limited powers compared to the Dáil, and is unable to block legislation sent to it from the lower house. It can delay bills. A referendum to abolish the Seanad was narrowly defeated in 2013, with opponents arguing that it should instead be reformed. No reforms have taken place since the referendum.
The register of electors for the University of Dublin panel is maintained by Trinity’s Academic Registry (AR). Graduates can contact AR to check if they are registered to vote.