'I didn't think I'd win - I ran as a protest,' Clonan says following election to Seanad

The newly elected Senator said he intends to “make some noise” during his time in the Seanad
'I didn't think I'd win - I ran as a protest,' Clonan says following election to Seanad

Vivienne Clarke

Newly elected Senator Tom Clonan has admitted he did not think he would be elected, but is now determined to maximise the opportunity to promote the causes with which he has been involved for over 20 years.

It was a “nail-biting contest” and a “baptism of fire” he told Newstalk Breakfast. “I didn’t think I’d win at all - I ran as a protest”.

Mr Clonan said his son Eoghan, who is a student at Dublin Business School and has a neuromuscular disability, was his campaign manager. When Eoghan had been diagnosed, it was “like Alice falling through the looking glass” as the family moved into a parallel world where they had to fight “for really poor services,” Mr Clonan said.

Ireland is “one of the worst countries in the EU” for disability care and services, he added. “We can do better. I want to make things better.”

It’s great to be inside, not outside the gates

Mr Clonan said he did not know how long this Dáil would last, but for its duration he intended to “make some noise” about radical campaigns and to have an impact.

He added he could achieve more by being in the place where people make decisions: “It’s great to be inside, not outside the gates.”

The security analyst and disability campaigner said he had voted for Seanad reform, but had never thought he would be elected to the institution himself.

He said he hoped the Government would fulfil its promise of reform. “The Senate is very important,” he said, as it had the power to hold the Government to account, not to allow the support of vulture funds which eroded public services.

Mr Clonan expressed disappointment that many who were eligible to vote in the Seanad by-election had not done so. As a Trinity College graduate, he was a member of a very privileged group.

Of the 70,000 who were eligible to vote only 15,000 had done so: “The most progressive community in the country didn’t vote. All they had to do was pop it in the post.”

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