Galwaywoman Alice-Mary Higgins is to run as an Independent candidate in the Seanad elections.Ms Higgins, daughter of President Michael D and his wife Sabina, has taken an unpaid leave of absence from the National Women’s Council of Ireland, where she works as a policy co-ordinator, to run as a civil society candidate on the NUI panel.
Among her main campaign issues are closing the gender pay and pension gap, repealing the Eighth Amendment and introducing equality budgeting, which analyses how different sections of society are affected by specific economic policies.
Ms Higgins has previously worked with the unemployed, anti-racism project Comhlámh, aid agency Trócaire and for the umbrella group ‘Older and Bolder’, which campaigns for senior citizens.
A Fulbright Scholar and graduate of UCD and Trinity College Dublin, she said that although the Seanad was in need of reform, it did play an important role in developing progressive legislation.
“However, there is further reform needed if the Seanad is to reach its full potential as a space for national debate,” she said. “If elected, I will work to secure a vote for all citizens, building on the excellent legislative proposals of former NUI senators.
“Equality, in all its forms, has been internationally recognised as an essential foundation for a healthy society and sustainable economy. We need to build from the base by legislating for decent work, resourcing social protection and delivering quality public services. I’m not seeking a role in government, but to be a voice for civil society.”
Not since 1981 has there been a woman elected to the NUI panel in the Seanad. The last was Gemma Hussey. President Higgins served as an NUI senator between 1983 and 1987.
Ms Higgins’s manifesto and website will be launched in the coming weeks.