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Seanad by-elections an important opportunity for unionist inclusion - Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile

16 February, 2021 - by Niall Ó Donnghaile

Sinn Féin's leader in the Seanad, Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile, has urged parties across the Oireachtas to ensure there is better representation of unionist voices in the Seanad.

Today at the Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, Senator Ó Donnghaile again expressed support for unionist representation in the Seanad and called for parties to bear this mind ahead of the upcoming Seanad by-elections.

Speaking after the Committee, Senator Ó Donnghaile said:

“Today at the Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, I again outlined why I believe that it is important to have unionist voices included in the Oireachtas.

“I believe it is vital that the Oireachtas is inclusive and unionist voices have the opportunity to be heard and to participate in discussions about our shared future. 

“I welcome that my colleagues in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael said in today’s committee that they share my view and also wish to see unionist representation. However, I was perplexed to hear this when their parties have consistently failed to ensure unionist representation in the Seanad.

“Ian Marshall was a highly capable and well-regarded Senator in the last Seanad term. I, along with many others across this island, was deeply disappointed when the Taoiseach failed to appoint him to the Seanad last year. 

“There are now two Seanad seats which will be subject to by-elections in the near future. Sinn Féin will be supporting Ian Marshall in the by-election for the vacant seat on the Seanad Agricultural Panel.

“I am again urging both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to recognise this important opportunity to have unionist representation here.

“We all have a duty to work towards a genuinely shared and inclusive Ireland together. That means more than just rhetoric from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, they need to put their words into action.

“If the Seanad by-election becomes another carve up of power between these two parties at the expense of including unionists, that would be a poor reflection on them both.” 

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