Political parties & ‘independent’ candidates compromising the integrity of the Seanad and the University Panel seats

Dublin, Ireland March 28th, 2016 

Sean Melly, entrepreneur and Independent Seanad candidate (Trinity College), has criticised Fine Gael for asking its members to support so-called ‘independent’ candidates who are running on the university panels.

Fine Gael have issued a letter promoting a number of ‘independent’ Seanad candidates on the university panels, pointing out their Fine Gael credentials and affiliations.

“I am surprised and disappointed that Fine Gael, or any other political party, would attempt to politicise the Trinity University or National University of Ireland panels. The Seanad seats held by Trinity and the NUI have a long tradition of independence from political parties” says Mr. Melly, “If candidates wish to run on behalf of a political party it is their choice, but they must make that clear.  They cannot be active members of, or receiving support from, political parties while at the same time declaring themselves as ‘independent’ candidates. They need to be honest and political parties should not compromise the integrity of the Seanad. “

“The Seanad was designed as an upper house where those with specialist experience or expertise could inform debate and legislation. “ says Mr. Melly, “For too long now, the Seanad has been used by political parties as a crèche for aspiring TD’s and a waiting lounge for politicians who fail to get elected. This must stop. The independence of the Seanad must be maintained and it’s original function rescued and preserved. “

The Fine Gael letter says that ‘The party is anxious to maximize its vote on the two University panels …” It continues ‘If you are eligible to vote on either or both panels, please ensure you vote for the party affiliated candidates.’

It then goes on to list three candidates on the NUI panel and one of the Trinity panel.  Only one of these candidates is running under the Fine Gael banner.  The other three all state that they are ‘independent’ but are described in the letter as ‘Fine Gael activist’, ‘Fine Gael member’ and ‘Fine Gael affiliated’ candidates. The letter ends ‘Please remember to vote for Party affiliated candidates.’

“It is unacceptable for Fine Gael or any other political party to seek to politicise the university seats”, says Mr. Melly, “and candidates, who call for much needed Seanad reform must avoid contributing to its current failings ”