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The Seanad – main changes

You may vote Yes or No to the proposal to abolish Seanad Éireann.

If this referendum is passed:

  • The articles in the Constitution dealing exclusively with the Seanad will be removed. All references in the Constitution to the “Houses of the Oireachtas” or to “either House of the Oireachtas” will be replaced by a reference to Dáil Éireann.
  • The Seanad will be abolished on the day before the Dáil meets after the next general election. The current Seanad will continue until then.

If this referendum is not passed:

  • The constitutional position of the Seanad will not be changed.


Role of the Seanad

At present, the main role of the Seanad is as part of the process of making laws.

It also has a number of further functions which are set out in the Constitution.


Making laws

At present, the Oireachtas (the National Parliament of Ireland) consists of the President, the Dáil and the Seanad. The Dáil and Seanad are the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Oireachtas makes the laws of the country.

Proposed laws are called Bills. In order to become law, a Bill must be passed both by the Dáil and by the Seanad and then signed by the President. The Bill then becomes an Act.

The process of making general laws starts when a Bill is presented in either the Dáil or the Seanad. Members of each House may propose changes to Bills. The Seanad has the power to delay a Bill by up to 90 days but does not have the power to prevent it becoming an Act or to change it unless the Dáil agrees.

If this referendum is passed:

  • The Oireachtas will in future consist of the President and the Dáil.
  • A Bill will become law if it is passed by the Dáil and signed by the President.


Money Bills

The President has the power to refer Bills to the Supreme Court for a decision on whether or not they are constitutional except in the case of Money Bills.

Money Bills are different from other Bills:

  • They are essentially proposed laws that deal only with matters relating to public finances including, for example, matters relating to taxation.
  • They must start in the Dáil.
  • The Seanad must consider them but may not make changes; it can make recommendations within 21 days which may be accepted or rejected by the Dáil.
  • The Seanad cannot delay the passage of Money Bills.

The Constitution contains provisions for the Seanad to dispute whether or not a Bill is a Money Bill.

If this referendum is passed:

  • The final decision on whether or not a Bill is a Money Bill will be for the Dáil alone.

So the main changes will relate to how laws are made in this country, but there would be other changes if the referendum is passed. For more details of these click here.

And make sure you use your vote on October 4th.