New proposals to significantly reform the Seanad have been published today in a 130-page all-party committee report.
Among the measures is a plan to allow Irish citizens in the State, Irish passport holders abroad, as well as people from Northern Ireland to vote in Seanad elections.
The 23-member Implementation Group, containing 11 Senators and 12 TDs, was chaired by Senator Michael McDowell.
It was tasked with assessing the recommendations flowing from the Working Group on Seanad Reform in 2015, which was chaired by Dr Maurice Manning.
The Implementation Group has endorsed the Manning Report proposals to expand the franchise, saying it would "enhance its democratic mandate, deepen engagement between the public and Senators and will give the public a far greater say in the make-up of the Seanad".
The Implementation Group also backed the proposal to expand the range of graduates who will be eligible to vote.
However the Implementation Group did not accept everything proposed in the Manning Report.
In a slight variation, it suggests that the new composition of the Seanad should be:
- 11 senators be appointed by the Taoiseach
- 15 senators be elected by TDs, Senators, County and City Councillors
- 34 senators be directly elected from five vocational panels, and another including graduates of all universities.
The group decided against trying to hold elections to the Dáil and Seanad on the same day, finding this would be neither "practical" nor "desirable".
In a draft legislation included as an annex in the report, the Implementation Group calls for the creation of a Seanad Electoral Commission to establish and maintain the register of voters.
However, as this reform would take some considerable time to introduce, it recommends that the next Seanad election should take place in the same manner as the last.
In a referendum in 2013, Irish voters rejected a proposal to abolish the Seanad by a margin of 51.7% to 48.3%.
In a letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mr McDowell urged him to introduce legislation on Seanad reform into the Dáil before it is brought before the Upper House citing concerns that Senators may not act quickly enough to change how they are elected.