McAleese appointed to Seanad


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has named his 11 nominees for the Seanad tonight. The list includes Dr Martin McAleese and Fiach MacConghail, director of the Abbey Theatre.

The other nominees include former Olympic athlete Eamon Coghlan, who is a director of the Crumlin Children’s Medical & Research Foundation, Jim Darcy, teacher and member of Louth County Council and Aideen Hayden, solicitor and chairperson of Threshold housing agency.

Also on the list are barrister Lorraine Higgins, teacher Mary Moran, businesswoman and founder of the Jack and Jill Foundation Mary Ann O'Brien, lecturer and broadcaster Marie Louise O'Donnell, Jillian van Turnhout of the Childrens Rights Alliance and Dr Katherine Zappone of the Irish Human Rights Commission.

Four of the nominations were made by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.

Mr Gilmore said his four candidates were Dr Katherine Zappone, Aideen Hayden, Lorraine Higgins and Mary Moran.

Dr McAleese, a dentist by profession, has been actively engaged in the North-South peace process. He was also the initiator of last year's Your Country Your Call competition, of which Mrs McAleese was patron.

He said he was "very pleased and honoured, as is my entire family, to be nominated by An Taoiseach to be a member of Seanad Éireann".

In a statement, he said he greatly looked forward to serving as an independent member of the Seanad.

"I will not be affiliated with any particular party or grouping and will focus on issues which affect the practical interests of the people of Ireland, especially in regard to economic regeneration and employment.

"I will also continue, as best I can, to contribute to political harmony and reconciliation on this island."

Dr McAleese said that over the coming months he would continue to support the President in the performance of her duties, while also commencing his new role in the Seanad.

He said he would not be accepting any salary from the Seanad until after the President leaves office.

Mr MacConghail said he was "extremely honoured" to have been nominated and he said he would be an independent voice for the arts community in Ireland and for the role of the citizen in public decision making.

"I will continue my work as director of the Abbey Theatre and as Chair of We the Citizens, with as much commitment as ever."

Dr Zappone is currently a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission, to which she was first appointed in 2001. She has lectured in the fields of ethics, theology and education at the University of Dublin, Trinity College.

She is a former chief executive of the National Women's Council of Ireland and a co-founder of the An Cosán learning and enterprise centre in Tallaght, Dublin.

Dr Zappone is also a prominent equal rights campaigner and lives in Dublin with her partner Dr Ann Louise Gilligan. The couple are currently awaiting judgment in a Supreme Court appeal relating to the recognition of their Canadian marriage here.

Aideen Hayden has served as chairperson of the housing charity Threshold since 1998. She was a Labour party candidate on the Industrial and Commercial panel in the 2011 Seanad elections.

She is a native of Carlow and lives in Dublin with her husband and two teenage daughters.

Lorraine Higgins a barrister and practices on the western circuit. She is also a membership officer with Junior Chamber International Galway.

She received over 3,500 first preference votes in the constituency of Galway East in the 2011 general election. She also stood unsuccessfully as a Labour party candidate on the Industrial and Commercial panel in the subsequent Seanad elections.

Mary Moran is a teacher at St Vincent's Secondary School in Dundalk, Co Louth. She is also a member of the parents council and board of management of St Mary?s Special School in Drumcar.

She also stood unsuccessfully in the recent general election and Seanad elections.