The Gist: Mega TCD Seanad Roundup
Trinity graduates have a boutique selection of candidates for their three Seanad seats. Let's have a look.
The Trinity College Dublin panel for the Seanad has three seats. Presumably the original intention was to ensure that there would always be some Protestant voices in the Oireachtas, but not too many. If you’re one of the TCD graduate voters, why not use your exalted voice, protestant or not?
In order of preference…
Here, in a very rough order of my preferences, come the candidates.
RUANE, Lynn public representative
If I had a vote on this panel I would give Lynn Ruane my Number 1 preference. This was her first term as a Senator and she managed to be a public representative that you’d actually look forward to hearing from. She spoke out about class- the unmentionable subject in Irish politics- as well as weightlifting, her daughter, her time using drugs and what she learned during her longer time helping other people using drugs. She’s also been an excellent coalition builder as a legislator, with Alice Mary Higgins, Francis Black and other members of the Civil Society grouping in the Seanad.
CLONAN, Tom academic / journalist
I really like Tom Clonan, so you should read this in that light. His advocacy for proper care for his son, who uses a wheelchair, broadened into advocacy for disabled people’s services in general. But, and this was the bit I liked, he didn’t centre himself in that. His son’s voice remained the primary experience. Earlier in his career, he was a Captain in the Army, and did a PhD which revealed a culture of bullying and worse of women in the institution. He was attacked and threatened when it went public. But he produced the receipts to defeat those attackers.
Also, he’s always very courteous and I really like that.
BACIK, Ivana senator
Ivana Bacik, incumbent senator, is a Professor of Law, advocate for women’s rights, and senior member of the Labour Party. I only once encountered her, when we were going on RTE radio and she defended the McAleese report into the Magdalen Laundries for the government. She hadn’t read it, but she did have a selection of extracts to refer to. I don’t think that was either her finest hour, or representative of a lifetime of dedicated work for social improvement.
PRIESTLEY, William Green Party county councillor
The rare honest declaration of a party affiliation, Cllr Priestly’s special interest is promoting the collection of rainwater to flush toilets, more generally, climate activism. Also not ‘building houses on top of houses’, which, to be fair, does sound like a recipe for trouble. Particularly if you’re in the house balanced on top.
BYRNE, Derek academic and media professional
Derek seems to have lived an exemplary life of advocacy, for gay rights, for people addicted to drugs. So it feels very churlish to point out that his self descriptions include “my provocative and sometimes controversial contributions to the Opinion page of the Irish Times” and “Some of you already know me from the Irish Times and Newstalk.” and I can’t get Troy McClure out of my head.
NORRIS, David senator
Look, it’s David Norris. Do you want to vote for him again, or do you want to vote for someone else? You don’t need me to tell you any more than that.
O’GORMAN, Joseph company director / administrator, Central Societies Committee, Trinity College Dublin
I mean, it says here he’s been a Trinity student since the 1980s and then part of the staff of the college societies admin since. I only know about the college admins of other, non-TCD colleges from the many years ago when I was in college, but I would not have picked the people left babysitting student societies as the most likely to become national figures, or, in the alternative, to be able to open a tin of USA biscuits unaided. But sure, that just goes to show how different TCD must be.
ALI O’SHEA, Abbas director, AFA Consultancy
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 both the NUI and TCD panels, looks to represent the minority experience, and 3rd level concerns.
SCANLON, Keith electrical and electronic engineer
Wicklow resident, climate change is his signature policy. Surprisingly, like Ali Abbas O’Shea, he also appears to also be running in the NUI Seanad election. Which is, you know, a bit Eyes Emoji.
MACNEILL, Hugo consultant / non-profit
Welcome, friends, to my favourite WTAF moment of discovery, as I watched this campaign video, featuring in excess of 50% of its runtime talking about rugby. Former head of a little firm called Goldman Sachs in Dublin (I presume that’s the non-profit outfit referred to in his official ballot description). Formerly of Blackrock College, a fact I know only because its mentioned in the first paragraph of this interview with him, and currently married to a Fine Gael TD, he has recently backed the plan to increase student rents in TCD.
It appears someone has designed a candidate to troll me.
You’ll need to get your ballots back by the end of March. Best fill them in now, and then you’ll have a whole week and a bit to find a stamp and get to a post box.