Interesting to see the choices of Seanad nomination to fill two vacant seats (the third will come in due course).
I must say I'm glad to see the Greens' Niall O Brolchain nominated for a seat - he is more suited to national politics than local and I think the current activity level in the Seanad will suit him. (Declaration of interest: I know Niall but only professionally, and I am quite sorry not to be in Galway to cover this story!)
He lost his seat in Galway City West in July, and it seems to have been quite the rollercoaster ride for him to this point - from being the Greens 'next big thing' as their first mayor in 2006, to being the face of the Galway Water Crisis in 2007, to missing out on a Dail seat later in 2007, losing his council seat in July and now getting that long-sought Seanad nomination. I wish him the best of luck.
By 'level of activity', I mean that the Seanad appears to be quite a hotbed of intelligent debate these days. Since abolition became a running topic it seems some Senators have really pulled the finger out and are out there doing the business.
The sad thing about the Seanad is that some of the best brains in Irish politics are stuck in it due to their 'unelectability' as TDs or general bad luck. I have great time for celebrity Senators Shane Ross and David Norris but I've also come across some very intelligent, lower profile Senators who are wasted in the 'talking shop' of the Oireachtas.
The Seanad is a lot more diverse than the Dail and seems to have real debates, rather than the sham ones that usually involve an FF backbencher mumbling over his notes to the 'rhubarb'ing coming from the Opposition benches. The Seanad can be quite entertaining, but is often the only place a lot of legislation gets discussed.
But back to the nominations. It's interesting to note that Labour's candidate (token, I presume, since they are unlikely to win the poll among sitting Oireachtas members) is James Heffernan of Labour. Another declaration of interest: James is the local councillor where my parents live and I knew him growing up. He is a first time councillor and ran a surprisingly strong campaign for the Dail in 2007. Labour have clearly earmarked him for greatness and it says a lot that he has been chosen as a Seanad nominee, token or not.
Now, I haven't heard of FF's James Carroll, but a quick google reveals him to be easy on the eye, at least. That's not everything but it helps; just ask Eamon Ryan!
*Update - Sen David Norris emailed me after seeing this post:
"Do you know the entire electorate numbers 226. Its confined to members of the Seanad and Dail. That lot castigated the University Seats with constituency numbering 55,000 in the case of Trinity and over 100,000 in the case of NUI for being undemocratic. What a laugh."