The Seanad could become more relevant if it is reformed and everyone is allowed to have a vote in electing its members, a new report on its future claims.

A group of members of the upper house has published the report, saying its aim is to stimulate debate about the chamber's future.

The group includes Seanad members Katherine Zappone and Feargal Quinn, former senator Joe O'Toole, political commentator Noel Whelan and former justice minister Michael McDowell.

The report was prompted by Government plans to hold a referendum on the abolition of the Seanad.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Senator Zappone said the Seanad had, for many years, not maximised the role envisaged for it in the Constitution.

She said it could play a "deeper role" in scrutinising laws from Europe and creating legislation at European level.

On the cost of running the Seanad, she said: "The kind of figures that are thrown out in relation to how much does the Seanad cost are exaggerated."

Ms Zappone said it costs around €10m a year.

She said that with the calibre of people in it and the changes they are promoting, it could be very good value in terms of the future.

The Seanad is to debate the document, perhaps as early as next week.