No voice for NI in the Seanad


Sir, – The decision to not include a representative from Northern Ireland among the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees to the Seanad is deeply regrettable and contradicts the message of a “shared future” in the programme for government.

I agree with the comments of Senator Michael McDowell in expressing his disappointment at the Government’s decision not to reappoint Ian Marshall to the Upper House.

The three Government parties had earlier made a commitment, that in the spirit of all-island cooperation, one of the 11 nominees to Seanad Éireann would represent the interests and provide a voice for the people of Northern Ireland in the Upper House.

Moreover, it was anticipated by many both here and in Northern Ireland that a member of the unionist community would be appointed to serve and represent the interests of nearly one million unionists on our island.

Senator Ian Marshall provided a unique and articulate insight into the unionist community.

There is an extensive section within the programme for government on a “shared Ireland”, and there has been much attention on the proposed unit to examine this within the Department of the Taoiseach.

This is no doubt a welcome development to both nationalists and moderate unionists.

However, the Government has undermined that crucial section of the programme on its first day in office by not appointing a representative from Northern Ireland, particularly a unionist, to the Seanad.

I fear that moderate unionists will take this decision as a signal that their views are not valued by the Irish Government. – Yours, etc,