Tomás Heneghan
Monday, 3 April 2023

In a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, University of Limerick graduates have been granted the right to vote in Seanad elections. The Constitution currently only grants this right to graduates of the National University of Ireland (NUI) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD), as they were the only universities in existence at the time of the Constitution's enactment. However, this ruling will now give thousands of UL graduates the same voting rights as NUI and TCD graduates.
Tomás Heneghan, a criminal justice and journalism graduate of UL, brought the case to the Supreme Court, claiming that it was unconstitutional to refuse him the right to register as an elector on either the university panels or the vocational panels for Seanad Éireann elections. Heneghan argued that he was being discriminated against based on the location where he achieved his third-level education.
Dr Laura Cahillane, a senior law lecturer at UL and an expert witness in the case, hailed the Supreme Court's decision as a "victory for democracy". She also stated “The judgments are hugely significant with ramifications for the future interpretation of the Constitution but on a practical level it will mean a lot of work now for government to put in place a fair voting system as soon as possible. It may even prove to be an impetus to proceed with Seanad reform more generally, which is also well past overdue”.