For Oral Answer on : 09/03/2023
Question Number(s): 120 Question Reference(s): 10415/23
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage if he will outline details of plans to replace by-elections with an alternate system, as outlined in the Programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Programme for Government – Our Shared Futurecontains a commitment to examine the replacement of by-elections with an alternate list system. The Programme for Government also committed to the establishment of a statutory, independent Electoral Commission. This was established on the 9 February this year and is known as An Coimisiún Toghcháin.
Article 16.7 of the Constitution provides that ‘Subject to the foregoing provisions of this Article, elections for membership of Dáil Éireann, including the filling of casual vacancies, shall be regulated in accordance with law’. The law in relation to Dáil by-elections is provided for in section 39 of the Electoral Act 1992, as amended.
Similarly, Article 18.10.3 of the Constitution provides that ‘Casual vacancies in the number of the elected members of Seanad Éireann shall be filled in the manner provided by law’. The law in relation to Seanad by-elections is provided for in section 13 of the Seanad Electoral (University Members) Act 1937 and in Part V of the Seanad Electoral (Panel Members) Act 1947 as amended by the Seanad Electoral (Panel Members) Act 1954.
Chapter 9 of Part 2 of the Electoral Reform Act 2022, assigns to An Coimisiún Toghcháin a research and advisory function in respect of electoral policy and procedures. Following its recent establishment, An Coimisiún will be well placed to make recommendations in respect of such matters, if requested. Any reform of electoral law concerning by-elections in the future would have regard to the outcome of any work carried out by An Coimisiún.