Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has responded to reports that the Government will shortly publish a bill to increase the number of graduates eligible to vote in future Seanad elections.

He described the proposals as falling well short of the reform demanded by people when they rejected the Government’s attempt to close the Seanad.

Deputy Martin commented, “Today’s confirmation that the Government proposes to pass off an increase in the numbers of graduates with a vote in Seanad elections as major reform is deeply disappointing. I do not believe this is the reform that people demanded when they sent the Government back to the drawing board in the Seanad referendum in October.

“During the referendum campaign, Fine Gael was quick to take up the Sinn Féin theme that asking graduates to vote for members of Seanad Éireann was ‘elitist’. It was a key part of the Fine Gael argument that the Seanad could not be fixed. Now, just two months later, people are being asked to swallow the proposition that strengthening and extending the franchise of graduates is somehow evidence of actual reform.

“People should not accept it and will not accept it. There is now a unique opportunity to introduce real reform and give the Seanad a meaningful and more challenging role in the Oireachtas. This can be done without further constitutional change and would enjoy cross party support. I would again call on the Taoiseach to listen to the message he received in October and embrace this chance for real reform.”