Irish Seanad survives close vote as Kenny takes loss

Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the Irish parliament, will continue to have a role in the country’s Dublin-based government.

In a national referendum Oct. 4, the vote was 51.7 percent against abolishing the body to 48.3 percent in favor of the proposal, which was backed by the ruling government coalition led by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

“Unloved as it undoubtedly is, the Seanad may be about to receive an unexpected reprieve,” Irish Times columnist Arthur Beesley wrote in advance of the final tally. “This would open up a nightmare scenario for Kenny, the unwavering champion of abolition and the man who put the very notion on the political agenda in the first place and ran with in the last election.”

Kenny had said that abolishing the body would save the financially strapped country 20 million Euro a year.

The 60 members of the the Seanad, or Senate, are appointed by several different methods rather than being elected by the people. It is similar to the British House of Lords. Members of the U.S. Senate were elected by state legislatures until 1913, when the 17th Amendment allowed for a popular vote.

The Times reported “a clear pattern emerged of a blanket No vote in all Dublin constituencies and in many of the commuting counties of Leinster,” while the strongest Yes margin was in Kenny’s constituency of Mayo which voted 57 per cent Yes and 43 per cent No.

My ancestral constituency of Kerry North-West Limerick voted 53.8 percent Yes to 46.1 percent No.