The Irish Senate, or in Irish, Seanad Éireann, is the upper house of Ireland's bicameral parliamentary system, the Oireachtas and is not elected by the public at large. The election procedure consists of direct nominations by the Taoiseach, election by University graduates and special interest groups. The Seanad has very few political powers, partly as a result of historical pressures (as the Senate was established by the British government during the reign of the Irish Free state)
The Irish Senate holds a few minor powers, such as the ability to delay a bill from passing into law for sixty days, and also has Senators represented in government committee's. Senator David Norris (The Trinity College Dublin representative) is famed for playing a huge role in legalising homosexuality in a landmark 1993 courtcase. He also holds the distinction of being the first openly gay member elected to the Oireachtas.
The 60 members of the Seanad are decided as follows:
- 11 are directly nominated by the Taoiseach.
- 3 are elected by graduates of the National University of Ireland
- 3 are elected by graduates of the University of Dublin (i.e., Trinity College.
- 43 are elected by five panels representing vocational interests namely, Culture and Education, Agriculture, Labour, Industry and Commerce and Public Administration.