Taoiseach’s Senate nominations

Fine Gael’s 7 Nominees

Mr Eamon Coughlan
Director, Crumlin Children’s Medical & Research Foundation

Mr Jim Darcy
Teacher & Member of Louth County Council

Mr Fiach MacConghail
Director of Abbey Theatre

Dr Martin McAleese
Dental Surgeon

Ms Mary Ann O’Brien
Business Woman and Co Founder of Jack & Jill Foundation

Ms Marie Louise O’Donnell
Educationalist

Ms Jillian van Turnhout
Childrens Rights Alliance

Labour’s 4 Nominees

Ms Aideen Hayden
Solicitor & Chairperson of Threshold

Ms Lorraine Higgins
Barrister

Ms Mary Moran
Teacher

Ms Katherine Zappone
Member of the Irish Human Rights Commission

I thought that the Presidential Dinner pledge by Enda Kenny to abolish the Seanad was profoundly autocratic. There is no excuse for continuing the current method of election and nomination to the Seanad but to dismiss the efforts and work of successive members of previous Seanad’s is unjustifable. The Taoiseach’s 11 indicates a change of direction in this area. The diversity of the personnel will add to the Oireachtas. Marie Louise will add an artistic flare. Eamon Coghlan has a proven record of achievement and has much to offer. Jim Darcy is a thoroughly decent man with relevant social experience and I’m glas to see him there. I regret the absense of Frank Flannery – a mistake. Martin McAleese will I hope have much to say about Northsouth relations and quangos. It is noteworthy that the multi-referenda later this year do not include any change in the Seanad. However the AG has been asked to prepare documentation on the detail changes needed to abolish the Seanad.

My view is that many problems in Ireland are caused by a truncation of democracy and an oppression by the ruling classes of information that is uncomfortable. I will be very interested in new freedom of information legislation and in how the government deals with dissident opinions such as those expressed recently by Ivan Yates. I think that a Seanad peopled by retired Taoisigh among others would be an asset to the country.

The new Seanad may turn out to be interesting in contributions from members. It may be the last but there will be quite a campaign should the government decide on abolition.