Seanad debates

Thursday, 12 July 2012

12:00 pm

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
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I move:

That Seanad Éireann:

approves the calling of a Convention on the Constitution to consider the following matters and to make such recommendations as it sees fit and report to the Houses of the Oireachtas:

(i) reducing the Presidential term of office to five years and aligning it with the local and European elections;

(ii) reducing the voting age to 17;

(iii) review of the Dáil electoral system;

(iv) giving citizens resident outside the State the right to vote in Presidential elections at Irish embassies, or otherwise;

(v) provision for same-sex marriage;

(vi) amending the clause on the role of women in the home and encouraging greater participation of women in public life;

(vii) increasing the participation of women in politics;

(viii) removal of the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution; and

(ix) following completion of the above reports, such other relevant constitutional amendments that may be recommended by it; and

notes that:

—membership of the Convention will consist of 100 persons as follows:

—a Chairperson to be appointed by the Government;

—66 citizens entitled to vote at a referendum, randomly selected so as to be broadly representative of Irish society;

—a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from each of the political parties in the Assembly which accepts an invitation from the Government; and

—members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, so as to be impartially representative of the Houses;

—substitutes may be appointed subject to the selection criteria above, who will be entitled to contribute to the proceedings and vote in their own name;

—the Convention will agree its own rules of procedure for the effective conduct of its business in as economical manner is as possible;

—the Convention will have appropriate regard to the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement;

—not later than two months from the date of the first public hearing held by the Convention, the Convention will make a report and recommendation to the Houses of the Oireachtas on each of the matters set out at (i) and (ii) above;

—the Convention will report and make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas on each remaining matter as soon as it has completed its deliberations, but in any event not later than one year from the date of the first public hearing;

—the Convention may invite and accept submissions from interested bodies and will seek such expert advice as it considers desirable;

—all matters before the Convention will be determined by a majority of the votes of members present and voting, other than the Chairperson who will have a casting vote in the case of an equality of votes; and

the Government will provide in the Oireachtas a response to each recommendation of the Convention within four months and, if accepting the recommendation, will indicate the timeframe it envisages for the holding of related referendum."

Amendments Nos. 1 to 13, inclusive, not moved.

Question put:

The Seanad Divided:

For the motion: 29 (Ivana Bacik, Paul Bradford, Terry Brennan, Colm Burke, Deirdre Clune, Eamonn Coghlan, Paul Coghlan, Michael Comiskey, Martin Conway, Maurice Cummins, Jim D'Arcy, Michael D'Arcy, John Gilroy, Jimmy Harte, Aideen Hayden, Fidelma Healy Eames, Imelda Henry, Lorraine Higgins, Caít Keane, Marie Maloney, Mary Moran, Tony Mulcahy, Michael Mullins, Catherine Noone, Marie Louise O'Donnell, Susan O'Keeffe, Pat O'Neill, Tom Shehan, John Whelan)

Against the motion: 19 (Sean Barrett, Thomas Byrne, David Cullinane, Mark Daly, Terry Leyden, Marc MacSharry, Paschal Mooney, Rónán Mullen, David Norris, Labhrás Ó Murchú, Darragh O'Brien, Ned O'Sullivan, Averil Power, Feargal Quinn, Kathryn Reilly, Jillian van Turnhout, Jim Walsh, Mary White, Katherine Zappone)

Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Susan O'Keeffe; Níl, Senators Paschal Mooney and Ned O'Sullivan..

Question declared carried.