The modern Seanad Éireann was created under Bunreacht na hÉireann, the modern Irish constitution, in 1937. It consists of sixty members. Eleven are appointed by the Taoiseach (pronounced tee-shock, meaning prime minister). Six are elected by some Irish university graduates; three by the National University of Ireland graduates and three by the University of Dublin (generally known as Trinity College, Dublin) graduates. The remaining forty three are elected from panels by an electorate made up of TDs (Irish MPs), senators and local councillors.
There are currently proposals to expand the right to vote for university seats to all Irish universities and perhaps other Higher Education Institutes. There are also suggestions that some senators should be representative of and/or elected by Irish citizens overseas.
The Progressive Democrats have in the past advocated outright abolition of the Seanad, thereby making the Dáil a unicameral legislature. The Seanad has been accused of being ineffectual as a revising chamber, and also of patronage, with senators being failed Dáil candidates or allies of the Taoiseach.
However, respected people from Northern Ireland have been appointed as senators, such as the peace campaigner like the late Gordon Wilson) (whose daughter, Marie, was killed in the Enniskillen Remembrance Day bombing) and the former SDLP MP for West Belfast, Joe Hendron.
Seanad Éireann is chaired by the Cathaoirleach (pronounced, ka-here-loch).
Famous Irish senators include