Announcement of candidacy for NUI Seanad

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I am running once more for Seanad Éireann on the NUI panel, this post will tell you a bit about me and why I’m running*.

I’m an unmarried** 43 year old engineer. I’m a practical person who believes that politics matters most when it is about how we choose to do things, not simply who does them. I’m the son of parents from Kerry who were forced into emigration to England in the 50s and who had to do similar myself in the 90s, going to Japan. I later had the opportunity to choose to work in the US.

My intention is to make  politics work; for all of us, not simply for some of us. Like 95% of the electorate, I cannot vote in this Seanad election. We need your vote. Who would have thought that 4 years on from the 2007 election, where I attempted and, to be frank about it, failed to get some currency for the topic of electoral and political reform that it would now be so much centre stage. Real Political Reform is not an end in itself rather it is a means to an end, to create a society governed more wisely, more compassionately and more competently.

We need people who are ambitious not for themselves but for the nation, who are possessed of a vision and can recognise the means needed to realise that vision. We need to support those who can passionately and articulately make the case for a renewal of our democracy and of our society. I will not hide my belief that the current Seanad is a rotten institution made up of rotten boroughs. That does not mean that those voting are rotten, far from it, over the years those that have the opportunity to vote for the university panels have taken that task seriously and have sought to elect those who would make a contribution. Reforms to the wider political system must be in place if we were to decide to remove the Seanad. I do not and could not  support the retention of the current Seanad set-up but nor do I support the notion that its removal of its own would change anything.

I have to admit some of my limits, that I’m not the leader of some organised sectional interest or a trade union nor a retired millionaire looking something to occupy my time. I’ve never been the spokesperson for a major religion, I’m not on the speed dial of the Vatican. If those are disadvantages that count against me then so be it.

Yes I am a member of Fine Gael. I would have first joined the party as a teenager in the early 80s when the country was plunged into recession by a profligate FF government. I would drifted away from political involvement after leaving college and going to work in Japan. I later spent some time in the mid 90s as a member of the Green party, the emphasis on considering the longer term and building a more sustainable and better managed society appealed to me. After returning from the US I did not renew my Green party involvement. I rejoined Fine Gael in 2002 in the aftermath of the election as I realised that there was too much about the party and what it stands for that deserved to be saved. I could not  simply stand idly by when there was heavy lifting to be done in ensuring its survival. I was a candidate in the Dublin city council elections of 2004 in Artane, not out of any real personal ambition that I would win a seat but to ensure that we would retain the seat held up to then by Richard Bruton. I’m interested in politics as a means to make our country a better place to live for everyone. If that is a mark against me in your eyes then I can live with that too.

I regard myself as a politically progressive person. For me, progressive politics is not a creature of the left or the right, but is embedded in the belief that the status quo simply won’t do, that we are better than this and that we need to challenge ourselves every day to do better. It is tolerant and believes that a community is a place that has space for those who disagree with it. I am asking for your support in this election to continue the ongoing tradition of each day making a more just society and to provide a practical grounded alternative to the failed policies of woolly aspiration, cronyism and unfunded promises.

You and I – We remember the lost years of the 1980s and 1990s. We recognise the many missed opportunities that followed during the decade of the boom. We see the lack of critical thinking and straight talking in public life. We see the need for mature, serious, open-minded, tolerant, full-time members of the Oireachtas. We need people with their own ideas but who are open to the ideas of others. We need people who can tell a good idea from a bad one, and can explain the difference between them. We need a confident and articulate voice in the Seanad.

In this election you can dare to be different by voting first from the bottom of the ballot paper and, with your support and your vote, I will be that voice.

Economy – We need to run our economy on the basis that our goods and services are of the best possible quality, not simply the cheapest. We need to address the failure to make engineering and science as attractive to students as law and business. Our economic strength allows us the freedom to make our own choices about what kind of society we want Ireland to be. We need to think and plan for the longer term, not simply for a Dáil term. The short term focus on a property boom undermined our competitiveness. National legislators must think of the next generation, not merely the next election.

Society – Ireland is more than just an economy. As a society we face other challenges: Justice (reform of sentencing practices), Education (lifelong, not just for childhood), Health (Illness prevention through focus on primary care) and beyond. Progressive ideals are not the preserve of the left or the right. We need to make the public services we fund and use more transparent and accessible. We need to be able to see where the money goes. Everyone should contribute, and those contributions should be according to their means. We must replace the ‘all or nothing’ medical-card services model with a more nuanced approach. As the child of emigrants and an emigrant myself, I know what it is to leave home and loved ones in search of work.

Real Reform – We must make politics more open to outside scrutiny, more responsive to our needs, more accountable to the electorate, more diverse, more capable and less costly. The current system of political expenses is just plain rotten. Indeed these very elections are a rotten borough in a politically dysfunctional town. All citizens should be able to vote for non-geographically based, multi-vote constituencies in the Oireachtas. Abolition of the Seanad alone fixes nothing; rather it will just spare the rest of the Oireachtas and Local Government from the root and branch reforms we must demand of them. I support more complete package of reforms that sends the parish pump back to the parish.

This year we need strength and to seize with both hands the chance for a fresh start. Real practical political reform starts with your support and your vote.

So Vote Daniel Sullivan No. 1 and support a Real Revolution of the Radical Middle

*Further posts on this site which are accessible from the home page will tell you more about specific policy areas I am interested in and what I think about them.

** I do wonder at times, if I was able to say that I was father of two young children would that suggest that I might make a better member of the Oireachtas? Or that I was a captain of a football team in school. Too often it seems to me we elect people on the basis of background and skills that are not relevant to the position they are seeking.

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