Supreme Court to hear arguments on timing of Seanad voting law declaration

Supreme Court to hear arguments on timing of Seanad voting law declaration

The Supreme Court will tomorrow begin hearing arguments on the timing of its proposed declaration on the unconstitutionality of the laws governing elections for Seanad University Panels.

In April this year, the court ruled that the Oireachtas had failed to meet a constitutional obligation to extend the franchise for electing university members beyond the University of Dublin and the National University of Ireland.

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan held that there was an obligation arising as a result of the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Election of Members of Seanad Éireann by Institutions of Higher Education) Act 1979.

The legal proceedings were brought by Tomás Heneghan, a graduate of the University of Limerick who initially took the case as a lay litigant and was later represented by legal rights group FLAC.

In its April decision, the court suspended the declaration of unconstitutionality. Tomorrow, a seven-judge panel will hear arguments as to when that declaration should take effect — in effect creating a time-limit for legislation amending Seanad voting rules to be enacted.

In a statement, FLAC said: “It is expected that the State will seek to have the determination extended for a significant period of time, while the applicant argues that the situation should be remedied as soon as possible — ideally before the next general election.”

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