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Meet the Candidates


All ten candidates are listed on the Candidates page.

Candidate profiles

Abbas Ali O'Shea

Director AFA Consultancy

A Chara

I would like to introduce myself as a first time Seanad candidate in the upcoming election.

I was born in Iraq and spent the first 31 years of my life as an Iraqi. I have lived in Ireland for 14 years and I became an Irish citizen in 2016. I originally came to Ireland as a refugee, as it was no longer safe for me in Iraq. I am married to Aoibheann Ali O’Shea and we have two beautiful sons together. I run my own business, through which I promote Ireland’s excellent 3rd level institutions to students and governments in the Gulf States. In the wake of Brexit I believe it is more important than ever to promote Ireland abroad and explore new regions to create greater stronger links with.

My core motivation is to provide greater representation for Ireland’s new Irish in the Oireachtas, I am standing as an independent as I believe this is an issue which crosses party lines. As a member of the Seanad, I will advocate for reform in the immigration and the education sector in Ireland, while also promoting greater political participation and positive integration through community involvement. I am committed to: (i) sharing the views of minority voice in Ireland, drawing on my personal experience as a refugee, and (ii) promoting Ireland as an education hub abroad and working with the government to do so.


I believe that education is Ireland’s greatest export and I actively promote Ireland as a globally recognised centre for educational excellence. My aim is to increase funding for education by building relationships between Irish and international institutions.

The education sector and sports education in particular are passions of mine. I aim to use my experience in working in a variety of roles in the educational sector and my research in sports education to contribute to debates and policy development in these sectors.


I believe integration of new arrivals into Irish life is essential and beneficial. I will continue working to encourage this through education and participation in community life.

I am a product of the immigration system in Ireland. My application for refugee status was processed quickly and I was able to start work within a month as an interpreter/translator with the immigration service. However, I am one of the lucky ones, and I have witnessed many family and friends suffer at the hands of the immigration system, spending years in direct provision unable to continue to third level education or join the workforce. Immigrants shouldbe empowered to integrate and contribute from day one. I will advocate for an immigration system that will be more beneficial for everyone in Irish society.


I believe in participation and inclusivity in the democratic process and playing an active role in contributing to Irish society. I will empower communities to do so through education and integration.

I will provide the perspective of the new Irish in the Oireachtas and work to harness the benefits of diversity in our society. It would be an honour for me to be able to count on your support in the up-coming election.

Ivana Bacik


I am honoured to represent Dublin University in Seanad Éireann and am standing for re-election on my track record as an effective and tireless legislator. Over the past Seanad term, I have been proud to lead the Seanad Technical Group; and have had significant legislative successes. Bills that I introduced during my time as a Senator have changed the law in a range of areas, including women’s rights, LGBT rights, the right to a more secular society and the rights of freelance workers. Six of my private member’s bills have been accepted by Government, five of which are now law – a record achievement for any Senator. If re-elected to the Seanad, among other priorities, I would continue important work on women’s rights, notably by ensuring passage of my gender pay gap legislation and the introduction of safe access zone laws for women seeking abortion. I would also seek to continue my work on migrant rights and the rights of our new communities, through ensuring passage of the children’s citizenship bill which I have already introduced in the Seanad. I would also continue to work closely with NGOs and civil society groups on human rights campaigns, both Irish and international, in order to achieve progressive change for equality and social justice., please see

Derek Byrne

Academic / Media Professional

My name is Derek Byrne and I am a three times graduate of TCD. In 2000 I graduated with an M.Phil. in Ethnic & Racial Studies, in 2008 with an M.Sc. in Drug & Alcohol Policy and in 2020 with a Post-graduate Certificate in Creative Thinking, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

I have been an Activist and Advocate for equality in Ireland since my early days as a Youth Leader in the National Gay Federation Youth Group. I consider myself to be one life’s worker ants, a doer, always busy behind the scenes, lobbying directly to those who have the power to influence and action change. However, now it’s time for me to step out of the shadows and put my skills and experience as an Advocate, Educator, Journalist and a Broadcaster to optimum use and I believe the Seanad is the place where I can make change happen.

In recent years you may have read my provocative and sometimes controversial contributions to the Opinion page of the Irish Times where I have confronted normative views on a number of issues including the right for gay and bisexual men to donate blood, the role of education as a tool of rehabilitation and challenging the barriers that prevent women from entering politics, to name but a few.

I have almost twenty years experience working in the Community and Voluntary sector. I currently lecture in Addiction Studies at Maynooth University and deliver training and education to parents to help them develop an effective family drug prevention strategy in their own home. I believe we should adopt policies and practices that create a loving and secure environment for all children in Ireland so that they grow up feeling valued and without the desire to take drugs. However, I am also an advocate for a more pragmatic and person centred approach to drug and alcohol policy in Ireland including the decriminalisation of all drugs. It is, after all, an issue that affects every one of us. At last year’s Trinity Ball, for example, 20 out of 26 students searched by Gardaí had drugs in their possession.

My connection to Trinity today continues as a Media Ambassador for Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace promoting access to courses for people returning to the workplace, particularly those over 50 years of age. I agree with recent analysis that age is the next frontier for human resource strategies in Ireland and in the necessity for inter-generational collaboration in the workplace. I see the need for employment models, policies and practices to be aligned to the reality of an aging workforce and I will do everything I can in the Seanad to promote the necessary change in this regard including options for a staggered the retirement age from 65 to 75 for those who want it.

I can’t pretend to have represented Ireland in any official capacity before. But I love my country and I want to serve it in the best way I know how and the Seanad is the place where I believe I can do that. These are just a snapshot of the issues I feel passionately about, however for a full list of my Manifesto and priority issues, what I call “My dirty dozen” please visit my website

Ar son comhionannais, leasaithe, oideachais, agus na timpeallachta

Vote Derek Byrne number 1

Tom Clonan

Academic, Journalist.

Tom Clonan has been campaigning for the rights of others for over 25 years. In 1995 – Decades before the #MeToo Movement – Tom showed up to fight for the rights of his female colleagues in the Irish Armed Forces. As an Army Officer – Tom identified shockingly high levels of sexual violence against female soldiers including sexual assault and rape. Tom put everything on the line to fight systemic gender discrimination and violence against women in the Army, Navy and Air Corps. His Doctoral Thesis prompted an Independent Government Enquiry which vindicated his findings.

Tom Clonan’s campaign against gender-based discrimination and sexual violence in Ireland’s Armed Forces transformed the culture of one of Ireland’s oldest Institutions with regard to diversity, equality and dignity in the workplace. Tom is a proven champion for women’s rights – a man long before his time.

Tom was recently recognised for this ground-breaking work by the Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces and by Dublin City University.

Radio interview with Miriam O’Callaghan.

For the past twenty years – Tom Clonan has been a tireless champion for the rights of children and adults with disabilities – like his son Eoghan. Fighting for the rights of others – and succeeding – is not a campaign slogan for Tom Clonan. It is what Tom Clonan does. Championing the rights of others – is in Tom’s DNA. As a fellow Trinity Graduate – Vote Tom Clonan No. 1 for the Senate. Put him in the Senate to fight for others. Tom Clonan will work with all parties and Independents to vindicate the rights of everyone who needs healthcare and independent housing and living.

Hugo MacNeill

Consultant / Non Profit

I am a proud graduate of Trinity College Dublin having graduated in Economics in 1981, with a Diploma in Anglo Irish Literature in 1982 and was elected a Foundation Scholar of the University.

Since then I’ve had the immense honour to play rugby for my country and represent the British & Irish Lions. I have also been able to play a leadership role over the past four decades in supporting Irish businesses in their plans for growth and development.

In parallel with my career, I have been consistently involved in projects relating to social justice. Whilst at Trinity, I refused to travel to South Africa for an international rugby tour in protest at the Apartheid regime. I subsequently set up the third world charity GOAL in Trinity and the UK. Following the Canary Wharf bombing in 1996, I organised the Peace International which brought the worlds best rugby players to Dublin in protest against terrorist violence.

I have been extensively involved in the leadership of organisations such as The Ireland Funds and British Irish Association, addressing some of Ireland’s most pressing social issues. I have also worked with the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID).

My priorities are:

  1. I am about building relationships across these islands. For almost 40 years I’ve been a strong and trusted voice on North-South relations and British-Irish relations - this has never been more important at this critical time.
  2. I am passionate about creating opportunities for young people with intellectual disabilities. I want to continue to work with TCPID to transform the lives of an even greater number of our citizens right across the country. This proven model of structured learning coupled with real employment opportunities for some of our most marginalised citizens is one we need to scale nationally.
  3. I have a very strong commitment to Trinity College Dublin. Most recently, I’ve been appointed as a Sports Ambassador with special focus on the promotion of women’s sport.
  4. I want to support a properly funded education system which will help Trinity and other universities both maximise their potential and international standing.
  5. I want to promote Irish business both here and through our global Irish family around the world. We need to ensure that our targets for protecting our planet are as important as those for boosting our economy. Ireland can and should lead the way.

I’m asking for your No1 Vote so I can continue to serve my country to the best of my abilities in the Seanad working for Trinity and Ireland.

Instagram: macneillhugo
Twitter: @hugo_macneill
Facebook: hugo.macneill
LinkedIn: Hugo MacNeill
#VoteMacNeill #SE2020

David Norris


Throughout my political career I have been motivated by issues concerning human rights, diversity and equality. Much has been achieved in the area of gay rights in Ireland, but the global situation is tragically different. I have always been active on matters such as the situation in Tibet, East Timor, Palestine, Iran and Iraq.

In seeking election to the Senate and asking for your vote I think it important to indicate some of the areas in which I believe I can be effective. For example, in the last Seanad I proposed a significant reform of Seanad procedure by removing Standing Order 41. This mechanism rules out of order any amendment that creates a charge on the Oireachtas, thus significantly limiting the Senate’s capacity to discuss important areas of policy. If elected I pledge to push this matter to a conclusion.

I have also prepared legislation to address the question of expanding the heel prick test for genetic disorders. At present Ireland has a very limited programme. Italy went from 4 to 40 diseases tested for within the space of one year. Currently 50 infants per year die in Ireland unnecessarily because of the deficiencies of our scheme. I will seek to have appropriate legislation introduced in this incoming Senate.

I have been a Senator representing Trinity graduates for many years. I believe my track record of hard work and achievement speaks for itself, and I ask for your vote to help me to continue this work.

Joseph O'Gorman

Company Director / Administrator, Central Societies Committee, Trinity

Joseph O’Gorman gained his B.A. (Mod) in 1988 having read Experimental Physics, an additional Moderatorship in Philosophy in 1991, his M.A. in 1992, and his M.Phil (Reformation and Enlightenment Studies) in 1993. He was heavily involved in college student politics during his years of study, holding various offices on the Dublin University Publications Committee and Dublin University Central Societies Committee and has served on a wide range of College Committees throughout his time in College.

As Treasurer of the College’s Chapel Choir his organisation of overseas tours within Europe, North America and South-East Asia promoted the College and its vibrant student life on the international stage. He has worked with the Trinity Foundation liaising with returning alumnae and new visitors alike as part of its ongoing endeavours to cement the College’s reputation and funding into the future. He has been instrumental in reviving the Dublin University Far Eastern Mission which now offers bursaries to TCD students to travel to Hong Kong to teach children in Kowloon and worked in conjunction with the TCD Global Office to promote the College within China and Hong Kong as a student study option.

He is currently a member of staff with the Central Societies Committee as its Strategic Development Officer, and the (non-stipendiary) Secretary of the Trinity Ball. He has just stepped down from the office of Assistant Junior Dean. As Director of Authenticity Tours Ltd he has a broad experience of the tourism industry and the challenges facing smaller businesses.

Why I am seeking your support

There is a wealth of talent among young people in Ireland and I believe that a voice advocating for policies which will enable them to stay in Ireland, to work for the good of our country, and to secure all our futures is a voice that should have a place in the Seanad.

My thirty years of experience in working with the Dublin University Central Societes Committee and my past fifteen years as an Assistant Junior Dean in Trinity College, has served to give me a breadth of understanding of the issues and problems which young people face, the hopes and ambitions to which they aspire, and the skills and abilities that they have to offer. The independence of a Trinity senator provides an opportunity to critique, if necessary, and commend, if necessary, in a way that partisan politics does not.

It is for these beliefs that I am seeking your support for my independent candidacy in the upcoming Seanad Election.


Arts and Culture: Appreciating the Arts
Enterprise and Small Business: Building an Ecosystem for Entrepreneurship
Higher Education Students & Young Graduates: Realising the Potential of Our Graduates
Rural Development: Redressing the Current Imbalance
Coherence of Government Policy: Avoiding the Compartment Trap
Seanad Reform: Retaining Strengths and Removing Weaknesses


William Priestley

Green Party County Councillor

I studied ‘European Studies’ in Trinity College and graduated in 2002. I was elected President of the Students’ Union the same year and then President of the Union of Students in Ireland the year after. Like most graduates, many of my fondest memories are of the friends I made along the way: whether that be on the rugby pitch, in the GMB or during the halcyon days of the Buttery canteen when it doubled as a Ents venue. I have continued to be actively involved with Trinity. Most recently, I have worked with Department of Psychology on a new and innovative approach to promoting mental health among young people. In 2005, I was awarded a scholarship at the University of Notre Dame, IN, where I completed a masters in education.

I have run for the Seanad twice before. The first while I was working with high-risk re-offenders in the Probation Services and then, in 2016, while running a youth service on one of the most marginalised estates in the country in Limerick City.

Watching so many young lives unnecessarily slide out of view, focused my mind on national policy. I attempted to influence this first through the ‘Apprentice Programme’.The initiative was an alternative approach to community empowerment and meaningful employment for at-risk young people. TEDx Talk

I wrote a play, ‘Inferno, Kid’, about the realities of urban renewable and, as I saw it, the misguided focus. The piece was performed by an inspiration young man from Moyross. The award-winning play featured in the Edinburgh Fringe last year.

Originally, I stood for the Dublin University Seanad Election as an independent, something I was extremely proud to do. Since then, I have reflected on the multiplying effect of a value-based party and the impending climate crisis. For these reasons, I joined the Green Party. Last year I was honoured to top the poll in Rathfarnham-Templeogue and receive the highest number of first preference votes of any candidate in South County Dublin.

There are many challenges ahead, both in terms of social policy and climate change. I believe I have the energy, creativity and commitment to play a role as a Dublin University Senator.

Lynn Ruane

Public Representative

My name is Lynn Ruane, and I currently serve as an Independent Senator for the Trinity College constituency.

Since being elected in 2016, it has been an honour to represent you and to use my platform as a force for change within Irish society. The graduates of Trinity College Dublin afforded me that responsibility, and it is a responsibility that I will never take for granted. I am asking you to return me to the Seanad, so I can continue the work that I have begun in your name.

My background has always been rooted in community development and those values and principles have infused all my work. I developed them throughout my career in addiction services, and I have taken them into the important work of the Seanad.

One person cannot be all things to all people and with this in mind, I’ve sought to exercise my mandate collectively and collaboratively at all times. Politics should always be inclusive and underpinned by evidence.

In order to achieve this, I’ve ensured that civil society organisations have been involved in all my efforts in political life. Every legislative amendment, every bill and motion I’ve brought forward, and every policy proposal has been part of a process; this process directly involves the people and organisations that are working of the front line of the big issues facing society. They are the experts on the ground who know exactly what needs to change to make Ireland a place where people can flourish.

Politics is about so much more than the decisions we make in the legislative process. Politics reaches into every part of all our lives, and I have endeavoured to empower the lives of those that have felt they do not have a political voice.

I have done this through my work in the Seanad chamber and the Oireachtas committees, through community education initiatives I have developed, such as Project Sums and Philosophy in the Community, and by travelling the country to talk to over 150 schools, youth clubs and local community services since first elected.

Knowing intimately the transformative power of education myself, I was committed to bringing that message to as many people as could. Using my voice to empower and my political influence to create, facilitate and illuminate the pathways for people to succeed and flourish in their own communities.

In 2016, I was entrusted with the responsibility of representing Trinity in the Oireachtas. I’m now returning with four years of experience, a strong record of legislative success and I am seeking your support once again.

Please contact me if there’s anything you’d like to ask about my work. I respectfully ask for your first preference vote at the upcoming election.

Is mise le meas,
Lynn Ruane.

If you’d like to read about my record and my priorities, please visit my website –

Keith Scanlon

Electrical and Electronic Engineer

I’m Keith Scanlon (BE 1991, MEngSc 1993, NUI-G), a proud parent, engineer, business consultant, environmental volunteer and community development leader.

I’m asking to be your Independent Voice in Seanad Éireann to protect our young people from the threat of impending climate, biodiversity and community collapse.
I believe passionately that we, as the university professionals, are the backbone of Irish society, entrusted to build the future for our children and grandchildren through developing conscious, resilient communities.

I grew up on a family farm in Attymass, Ballina, Co. Mayo, was educated in St. Muredach’s College, NUI-Galway, and Athlone IT. I have led business and operations transformation for 29 years in the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) industry globally, as team leader, business director, change management consultant and Corporate Social Responsibility director, for Ericsson Ireland, Ericsson Global, and British Telecom UK. I volunteer protecting nature, re-wilding local democracy, and driving climate action, with my family and community. I have founded and directed volunteer community charity groups improving youth education and sport, community development, climate, heritage and homelessness.
I need your No. 1 Vote to be the Independent Senator who delivers Climate and Biodiversity Emergency action. On behalf of local youth, parents and professionals, I previously organised climate rallies, drafted the (local and national) emergency declarations, and independently brokered agreement from all political party leaders. The Oireachtas declared the Emergency in 2019 together with our young leaders, and now it’s time for action. With your mandate, I will follow through on our commitment and drive the emergency mobilisation needed.

We, the university graduates, shape the future, entrusted by society to power and steer sustainable development. Now we need to excel again, together, in the face of this emergency challenge.

As your Independent Senator, I will endeavour to push all political parties and community stakeholders to take action for the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, by implementing a fair and just “Environmental-Care” 30-year plan. I will lead change, from the Seanad, specifically to:

  • PROTECT OUR PROGRESS - Review and amend Oireachtas bills to climate-proof and biodiversity-proof them for current and future citizens
  • Propose new legislation where there are key gaps on social and environmental Justice
  • Initiate the promised Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Emergency
  • MEASURE OUR WELLBEING - Launch a simple Irish National Wellbeing Index that regularly reports and focuses all stakeholders on improving homelessness, hospital access, greenhouse gas emissions, commuting congestion times, biodiversity, government gender equality, community resilience and active citizenship engagement / volunteering
  • ACT TO IMPROVE – Lead the public stakeholder dialog and expert forum to agree our common plan. This will include our climate actions, IWT Manifesto for Nature, NWCI Feminist Manifesto, and The Wheel Stronger Communities Manifesto, as detailed in my policy.

With your No. 1 mandate for change, we will be able to look our future grandchildren in the eye and say: Yes, We Did take our responsibility seriously; Yes, We Did everything possible to protect your future! #ProfessionalsDeclare