The Gist: Mega NUI Seanad Rundown
The ballot paper folds out and folds out again. Here's a rundown of who all the candidates might be and who you might want to prefer.
The Seanad is a profoundly weird legislative body. The three seats bagsied for NUI graduates should be available to all graduates to vote for. But this is the electorate- 100,000 on the register. Multiples of that could register but don’t. And of the 100k who can vote, only 36k do it. So here, one vote really does make a difference.
Tower of Preferences
Here’s my order of preference, No 1 vote going to Alice Mary Higgins, and last preference going to Ronan Mullen. You can leave him off if you like- it’s basically the same thing if you’ve voted all the way down the rest of the field.
But your might want a different order. So, using my Tower of Policy, let’s do a quick rundown on the NUI candidates.
Alice Mary Higgins: objectively the best Senator the NUI has elected for, literally, decades. An astonishingly hard-working legislator, with significant contributions improving the Government’s Data Protection Act, Data Sharing and Governance Bill, the Heritage Bill (protecting hedgerows and other environmental issues) as well as drafting her own legislation on Seanad Reform.
Rory Hearne: Rory’s an academic, an expert on social policy and the host of the Reboot Republic Podcast, strong on housing and the practical changes to support it.
Keith Scanlon: Wicklow resident, climate change is his signature policy. Surprisingly, he also appears to also be running in the TCD Seanad election. Which is, you know, a bit Eyes Emoji.
Laura Harmon: Former USI president, Labour party policy drafter, running as an independent. LGBTQ rights her signature policy, but broadly Labour-congruent policies.
Ruth Coppinger: Was a Solidarity-People Before Profit TD until the recent election. Just a hint of the scold as a TD.
Michelle Healy: UCC admin, background in international human rights with the UN. Heavy Cork and college funding flavour to the campaign statements.
Abbas Ali O’Shea: Compelling personal story (arrived in Ireland as a refugee from Iraq 14 years ago, has been an Irish citizen since 2016, runs a business promoting Irish 3rd level to Gulf students). The only person of colour running for the NUI panel, looks to represent the minority experience, and 3rd level concerns.
Michael Finn: Former Lord Mayor of Cork. Signature issue: Cork things.
Marcus Matthews: OK. So, look, I think it’s best if you go here and look at this 20 page manifesto and let its existence inform your opinion. Does ISP things for a living.
Peter Finnegan: I’m a bit stumped here. Is in favour of a shopping list of everything and anything you might want. Advocates for working within the system.
Garbhán Downey: He’s got a signature issue- A university for Derry. If that’s your issue, he’s your candidate.
Michael McDowell: Former Minister for Justice, Former Attorney General, Former leader of the Progressive Democrats. Michael McDowell led the efforts to block Shane Ross’ pet project changing how judges are appointed. That was a good effort, because it was a super dumb Bill. But, if you ever see any of those petitions to stop Irish children being deported, they happen because of the change in the constitution he promoted.
Ronan Mullen: Just the worst. Historically, he has a poll-topping bloc of first preference votes and is very transfer unfriendly after that.
Brendan Mary Price: Enthusiastic electoral candidate, bushel-obscured light as yet recognised. Seal Sanctuary. Warns that this, his sixth candidacy is his “Last, LAST, offer to you”. Signature issue: Cliamate change.
Jennifer Butler: Folklore academic, seems a decent sort. Signature policy… maybe, Education and generally being sound? Seems worth a preference, if you ask me.
Eoin Delahunty: “I will not be posting out a Litir Um Thoghchán as I believe it is a waste of paper and money”. A test case in the power of Medium posts to introduce yourself to the Irish electorate. Signature policies: Climate, self regard.
Karen Devine: Self described left wing feminist academic candidate who spoke at “Irexit Freedom to Prosper”, and declined to answer questions about whether she supported Ireland following Brexit out of the EU on Twitter.
Eva Dowling: Official Green Party candidate. Is, in some way I haven’t been able to specify yet, science.
Anne Staunton Barrett: Castlebar Chamber of Commerce notable and gift shop retailer. “I will campaign for the removal of the anonymity of the internet,”
Please do vote.
This is an election where almost anyone can find a candidate they’d be happy to support, even if, like Ronan Mullen, they are the worst. The franchise is painfully restricted. If you’re lucky enough to have a vote, please use it to do some good.
And please give Alice Mary Higgins your Number One, if you’d be good enough, thanks.