London and Brussels based candidates formally enter Seanad Race
1 in 6 Irish citizens live abroad and had no vote in the recent general election.
Barry Johnston (30), a human rights campaigner living in Peckham, London, has today become the first overseas resident Irishman to appear on the NUI Seanad ballot paper. Brussels-based environmentalist Ed Davitt (35), has joined the race for the Trinity panel.
Speaking at the close of nominations, Mr Johnston said:
“As the first overseas candidate for the NUI panel, based in London, I’m running to ensure the Irish abroad finally have a say in the politics of their home nation. One in six Irish-born people live abroad. Their voices were totally absent from the general election.”
Ireland has been criticised by the EU and the OECD for the disenfranchisement of its overseas citizens. Over 120 other countries, does not allow its overseas citizens to vote.
“Having chosen by referendum to keep the Seanad, we now need to make the second chamber more democratic and work to repay the trust that voters have put in it. In the absence of reform to date, I believe that this must begin with the candidates themselves and that the Seanad can be renewed by representing the voices that are currently excluded from politics or pushed to the margins of society.”
Mr Johnston is backed by gay rights activist Rory O’Neill (AKA Panti) and TV Psychologist and former Rose of Tralee Dr Clare Kambamettu.
His running mate Ed Davitt will contest the Trinity College Panel and is nominated by former Budapest-based Trinity Student Union President Andrew Byrne and London-based opera singer Daire Halpin. His assentors include Irish emigrants in Shanghai, Brussels and elsewhere, as well as emigrants recently returned to Ireland.