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Press Release

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) today welcomed the outcome of yesterday’s referendum on the abolishment of Seanad Eireann, and called on the Government to act immediately on ‘the people’s appetite for real reform’.

The USI have campaigned for a ‘No’ vote over the past number of weeks, producing proposals for reform of the entire political system in the ‘Free Our Voice- Politics for the People’ policy document.

Voter registration campaigns have taken place across the country over the past number of weeks, with USI utilising its new SERD (Student Elector Registration Database) technology for the first time to encourage students to vote ‘NO’ in the referendum.

Almost 10,000 students are already on the database and USI projects this will have eclipsed 60,000 by next year’s Local and European elections.

USI President Joe O’Connor said:

“Today marks an extremely positive result for Irish democracy, but neither option on the ballot paper offered the Irish people real and meaningful political reform.

The referendum outcome clearly reflects the will of the people for radical reform of both chambers, not just Seanad Eireann but Dáil Eireann also.

The Government should respond by immediately referring the question of Seanad reform, and the many proposals for such which exist, to the Constitutional Convention.

When multiple methods of achieving a common desired outcome are put forward, the correct response is to seek to achieve consensus, not take this as a justification for doing nothing.

It is clear that there is broad agreement that the extension of the franchise of the Seanad is necessary to make it more open and democratic.

Alongside this, a genuine effort to strengthen our Parliament in the Dáil and cede the complete Executive control which has been allowed to develop is absolutely necessary.

Despite the overall low turnout and considerable levels of political apathy evident in this referendum, the students of Ireland had their say, and will continue to do so in any future elections and referendums in far greater numbers.”

For more information contact USI Communications & Research Executive Grainne O’Reilly on 087-6776636, or 01-9052100.

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