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Cathaoirleach launches ‘Seanad100 – Minority Voices, Major Change’ programme of events to celebrate centenary of Seanad Éireann

15 Feb 2022, 12.30

The Cathaoirleach, Senator Mark Daly, has today launched Seanad100 – Minority Voices, Major Changes, the programme of events to commemorate and celebrate the centenary of Seanad Éireann.

The programme includes an exhibition, lectures, a TV documentary, themed tours of Leinster House, Culture Night events and student debates to highlight the contribution the Seanad has made since 1922, ahead of a 100th Anniversary Ceremonial Sitting in December.

To open the programme, Senator Daly chaired a discussion with two of the best-known members of the Seanad over the last 100 years, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson and Senator David Norris, who has the longest continuous service in the Seanad. The discussion was moderated by Oireachtas TV presenter Flor MacCarthy.

The Cathaoirleach said: “Minority Voices, Major Changes perfectly sums up the role Seanad Éireann has played and continues to play in Irish life. Over the last century the Seanad has been a platform for those who have championed and advocated for marginal and minority voices and in many cases leading to what became major changes in our society.

“President Mary Robinson and Senator David Norris are two of the most distinguished members of the Seanad over the last 100 years. Together they have more than 50 years of unbroken service that embodies ‘Minority Voices, Major Changes’. Their contributions during their time as Senators made a lasting impact on the history and daily life of the Nation and the State.

“This Seanad has implemented all the relevant recommendations in the Seanad reform reports that were within the power of the House to action. We hope to see progress on the implementation of the 1979 Seventh Amendment to the Constitution by government which would expand the franchise and the Seanad is seeking agreement from government that we would scrutinise EU legislation in advance of its enactment.”

The Cathaoirleach said the exhibitions and events will also highlight the contributions women and representatives from Northern Ireland have made in the Seanad throughout the last century.

The Cathaoirleach said: “The Seanad was established by the Constitution of the Irish Free State which was enacted after the ratification of the Treaty in 1922. Membership of that first Seanad Éireann, which ran from 1922 until 1936, included former unionists and holders of British hereditary titles, reflecting the diverse perspectives of the new Irish State. In 1937, the new constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann, established the Seanad Éireann that we know today.

“Since that first meeting on 11 December 1922, women have made an enormous impact with their work in the Seanad and now account for 40 per cent of this Seanad. Senators have been speaking for those who were on the margins of society and setting in motion the major changes for our citizens that makes the Ireland of 2022 a more progressive and inclusive country than it was a century ago. Seanad 100 will also highlight the work of those members that ensured northern voices, nationalist and unionist were heard in the Oireachtas, particularly during the Troubles and since the Good Friday Agreement.”

The programme events for Seanad 100 includes:

  • Seanad 100 Exhibition, ‘Minority Voices, Major Changes’;
  • Seanad 100 Seachtain na Gaeilge Lecture;
  • Social media campaigning and exhibition marking ‘A Hundred Years of Women in the Seanad’;
  • Lectures on the themes of ‘Women in the Seanad’, ‘Northern Voices’ and ‘The Next 100 Years of Seanad Éireann’;
  • Themed Tours of Leinster House over the summer months which will include the Seanad 100 exhibition and a Seanad 100 themed Culture Night in September;
  • Seanad na nÓg student debates hosted by Oireachtas Education in partnership with Foróige.

There will also be a bilingual Seanad 100 book launched later in the year, dedicated Seanad 100 web content developed by the Oireachtas web team, and a #Seanad100 social media campaign. Oireachtas TV will produce and air a special centenary documentary marking the role and impact of the Seanad.

The programme of events will culminate in a special 100th Anniversary Ceremonial Sitting of the Seanad in December which will be streamed live on Oireachtas TV.

Media enquiries

Verona Ní Bhroinn
Houses of the Oireachtas
Communications Unit
Leinster House
Dublin 2
+353 1 618 3881
+353 87 262 4132
Twitter: @OireachtasNews

Robert Kennedy-Cochrane
Houses of the Oireachtas
Communications Unit
Leinster House
Dublin 2
+353 1 618 4149
+353 85 8707436
Twitter: @OireachtasNews