Seanad Éireann - Volume 5 - 07 July, 1925


Dr. GOGARTY: Before the business of the Seanad is begun, there is a matter to which I desire to call attention. The matter I want to refer to is Article 30 of the Constitution, which sets forth the qualification of Senators. The Article reads:—

“Seanad Eireann shall be composed of citizens who shall be proposed on the grounds that they have done honour to the Nation by reason of useful public service, or that, because of special qualifications or attainments, they represent important aspects of the Nation's life.”

However accurately the first part of that article may be worded, the second part of it is rather lax and leaves it open to an interpretation which may not be wholly desirable. In other words, the intention, as I take it, of the framers of the Constitution is far from being made manifest in the second part of the Article, which reads: “because of special qualifications or attainments they represent important aspects of the Nation's life.” A man, say, suffering from St. Vitus's Dance, might be said to represent a separate and salient movement in the life of the country, or someone sufficiently notorious for doing things utterly apart from the public service might wish to make the Seanad the scene of his senectitude. In other words, the Seanad might become a refuge and an asylum for pensioners. That is why, however invidious the duty may be, I have felt it desirable to call attention to this matter. Reading the list of Senators who have [866] been rejected, they are, if anything, a few points better than those who have been successful. I think it is necessary that a Bill should be brought in to deal with this matter, or that a Special Committee should be set up to decide the qualifications of candidates for election to the Seanad in the future.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: Of course, Senator, that is a matter that is entirely in your own hands. You are not asking me, I hope, to interpret that Article of the Constitution.

Dr. GOGARTY: No, I do not want to join you in this invidious duty which I have undertaken myself.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: Each Senator must determine for himself what the meaning of this particular Article is. If you want, Senator, to have the matter dealt with in a concrete way, it is quite open to you to do so in several ways. You could introduce a Bill to have the interpretation of the Article in the sense that you desire it, or you could move a resolution asking that a Joint Committee be appointed to go into the matter, but we certainly cannot discuss the matter on this interjection which you have made now. There are many ways, as I say, in which you could deal with the matter, but I am not recommending you to adopt any of them.