A governmental experiment in class harmony

The Senate of Ireland.  Inspired by a papal encyclical, no less!  If only it were open to actual members of the “vocational panels,” instead of their self-appointed (or party-appointed) representatives using it as a stepping stone to the far more powerful lower house of parliament, the Dail (pronounced DALL, sort of).  I thought I’d read about something similar on the Continent during the Middle Ages, like maybe the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire (so-called), but maybe not.

Intriguing is the “University panel,” anybody with a degree from the two big Universities in the Republic.  Though since college education is becoming more common, maybe it’d make sense to raise the qualification to holders of advanced degrees like Master’s and Doctorates.  Certainly it shouldn’t be abolished like some want: it’s ancient Gaelic tradition, going way back in Scotland; plus their expertise and study could be useful to a Republic, since Republics are normally so beholden to passions of the moment.

What about the equally-ancient tradition of senior churchmen – or women nowadays perhaps! – in upper houses, such as the leading ones in the four biggest religious groups in the land – Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, and mainline Presbyterian – who are lifelong or very-long-time citizens of the Republic?  What about minority religions in modern, multicultural Ireland?: Quakers, Hindus, Jews, Muslims?  A lay Orthodox Christian?  (Orthodoxy traditionally bars clergy from government, preferring a “symphonic” relationship with the State, counseling its leaders privately [usually], from its perspective of Faith and Truth.)  I know some Irish religious leaders have big mouths, but where else can they be debated with, publicly and in-person, politely, as I’m sure Seanad Eireann requires?

I’m intrigued about suggestions of Diaspora representation in the Seanad, but not sure how they’d work this out, with over 70 million of us worldwide….

There’s one other significant ethno-cultural interest among Irish at home and abroad that seems to cry out for representation, what are commonly called the Clans – a term borrowed from the Scots – or sometimes more technically the Septs, one of which is a collection of people (apparently) descended from the same original hereditary surname and place and/or instance* – IOW the same (apparent) extended family – or sometimes a collection of such with the same surname but differing places of origin or of instance within the Island of Ireland.  Who represents a Clan has sometimes been a matter of controversy, even involving the Irish government itself, understandings of different legal systems and traditions that claim to have been followed in Ireland and elsewhere, competing claimants to Clan Chieftainries or organizational legitimacy, alleged outright fraud in this regard, etc.  But Clans are often a means of aiding reconnecting with Ireland for Diaspora Irish, emotionally and not infrequently physically, with Clan Gatherings there promoting localized and broader tourism.  But I think it’s fair to say that the leading undisputed representative of any Clan is The O’Brien, Prince of Thomond, Baron Inchiquin, descendant of the best-known Irish High King Brian Boru (d. AD 1014), and a predecessor of whom was considered for restoring the Gaelic Monarchy in Ireland in the 1930s-40s.  I believe he’s Anglican also, so in Seanad Eireann he could wear three hats at once, covering Clans, Diaspora, and Protestants!

(*–I say instance to cover families who have come to definitely identify and be considered as Irish down through the centuries but originated outside Ireland, such as the Scottish Gallowglas families, the “Old English,”  Norman Irish “more Irish than the Irish themselves,” etc.  Although often these too must be identified or distinguished with the help of varying Irish geography.)

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