James McDermott: Unfairness of Trinity vote is a recurring theme

As rivals jockey to replace Ivana Bacik in Seanad Éireann, it’s worth reminding ourselves that the very concept of a university senator is an anachronistic one

‘We now enjoy such mass participation in third-level education that it is more of a distinguishing feature if you can manage to avoid having a degree thrust into your hand by the provost of some institution or other.’ Picture: Getty

William Whitelaw, the former British home secretary, once famously accused his political rival Harold Wilson of “going around the country stirring up apathy”. A similar claim could be made about the candidates busy campaigning to fill the vacancy in Seanad Éireann created by Ivana Bacik’s election to Dáil Éireann last July.

Senate by-elections rarely quicken the pulse, and even the most obsessive political anoraks might struggle to remember the two winners of the last one ...