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Reformed Seanad could lead way in creating new Constitution – Naughton

24th October 2013 - Hildegarde Naughton TD

Fine Gael Galway Senator, Hildegarde Naughton, has today (Thursday) called for the Seanad to be used to reform the Irish Constitution. Senator Naughton was speaking in the Seanad debate on reform of the House which was addressed by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.


“I believe the Seanad is in an ideal position to lead the way in drafting a new Constitution that represents a modern republic that will serve our people for the next 75 years. Our current Constitution, which dates from 1937, is highly regarded internationally. However, as would be expected with a document which is over 75 years old, it contains various anachronisms and is no longer representative of our modern society.


“For example, its references to the role of women and the definition of a family are no longer relevant. Over 975,000 women work in Ireland today, a statistic that is a variance with the Constitution’s description of the woman’s role which refers to the importance of ‘her life within the home’ which sustains the ‘common good’ of society. I’m aware that this issue has been discussed by the Constiutional Convention and I believe that it needs to be addressed.


“Our constitution needs to take cognisance of today’s family unit, which can be for example the traditional family i.e. married couple and children, or single parents and children or a one parent family. The issues of upward only rent reviews and office holders pensions are other issues that need to be reviewed.


“I believe that there is a sense of referendum fatigue emerging in Ireland. Instead of bringing different issues to the electorate every six months, I believe we need to re-draft our Constitution.


“This should be done through extensive public consultation where the Seanad would sit in various locations across the country to elicit the views of the citizens of Ireland to help shape a new Constitution. I see this as building on the good work carried out by the Constitutional Convention whose work expires early next year.


“The Seanad should have the necessary legal support to assist members in the consultation and drafting process. The new draft Constitution should be presented to the Seanad and the Dáil within 12 months and be put to the people in a referendum.”

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