10 candidates to contest Trinity Seanad seats in election

All three of Trinity’s incumbent Senators are standing for reelection

10 candidates will contest the election for Trinity’s three seats in Seanad Éireann, having reached the threshold to make it onto the ballot paper as of the close of nominations at 12pm today. 

All three of Trinity’s incumbent senators, Lynn Ruane, David Norris, and Ivana Bacik, are standing for reelection.

Trinity’s three Senators are elected by the graduates of the university who hold Irish citizenship. The Trinity senators make up part of a 60 seat chamber which acts as the upper house of the Oireachtas, performing a mainly revisory role for legislation that passes through the Dáil.

The current holders of the three seats, who were elected in 2016, have all decided to run again and have secured the 10 nominations required to make it into the race. The seven other candidates also reached this threshold and will also be on the ballot paper sent out to graduates on the register of electors.

Senator Lynn Ruane, a previous president of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), has spent her time in the Seanad working on issues such as drug policy reform and criminal justice reform. She introduced legislation which proposed removing criminal sanctions for minor drug possession. Ruane also sat as vice-chair on the special Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment. Ruane was first elected in 2016 and is running for the second time.

Senator David Norris, who has been a Senator for Trinity since 1987, has also entered the race. During his tenure he has focused on human rights, immigration, and Seanad reform. Norris was the first openly gay person to hold elected public office in Ireland and is a long-time campiagner for LGBT rights. Norris is a former lecturer in Trinity’s school of English and chair of the James Joyce Cultural Centre, Dublin.

Also standing for reelection is the Labour Senator Ivana Bacik, the Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology in Trinity. During her time in the Seanad, Bacik introduced legislation which for the first time deemed Female Genital Mutilation a specific offence, as well as bills to prohibit discrimination against LGBT teachers and hospital workers and to provide collective bargaining rights to vulnerable self-employed workers such as freelance journalists, actors and musicians.

Also contesting the election is Derek Byrne, a lecturer in addiction studies at Maynooth University and regular contributor to the opinion page of the Irish Times. Among his manifesto commitments are the introduction of STI and relationship skills education from 12 years of age, removal the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood, and an overhaul of the national childcare policy. Byrne has also committed to supporting environmental campaigns.

Tom Clonan is a lecturer in Technological University Dublin and security analyst and columnist with the Journal.ie. Clonan has committed to lobby for Slaintecare as a long-term solution to Ireland’s health crisis, the reversal of cuts to support for people with disabilities, and increased investment in policing. Clonan is a former army officer, having served in Lebanon, Bosnia and armed support operations in Ireland during the Troubles.

Keith Scanlon is an electrical and electronic engineer. 

Green Party County Councillor William Priestly was elected to represent Rathfarnham-Templeogue in 2019. He worked with at-risk young people in America and in Limerick for more than a decade before returning to Dublin, and has led two unions, representing over 140,000 people, across 40 educational institutions north and south of the Irish border. 

Joseph O’Gorman has been the Strategic Development Officer of the Central Societies Committee (CSC) in Trinity and an assistant junior dean for over a decade. 

Hugo MacNeill, a former international rugby player who has played for the Irish national team and the British and Irish Lions is also standing. His wife, Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, was recently elected as a TD for Fine Gael in Dun Laoghaire. MacNeill has served as chair of several charities including GOAL, The Ireland Funds and the British Irish Association. He represents Trinity as ambassador for its Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities. He has also managed Goldman Sachs investment banking business in Ireland. In an interview with the Trinity Alumni Service he noted lectures that he received from fellow candidate David Norris as among his favourite memories from his time as an undergraduate in Trinity. 

Abbas Ali O’Shea is standing for the Seanad in both the National University of Ireland (NUI) constituency and the Trinity constituency. Ali O’Shea is the director of AFA Consultancy, an organisation that connects students with business interests and facilities study abroad programmes. He has promised to lobby for increased government funding for education, integration of migrants into Irish society and greater participation in the democratic process.

Additional reporting by Aisling Grace 

Finn Purdy

Finn Purdy is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News. He is a Junior Sophister English Studies student, and a former News Editor and Assistant News Editor.