Ireland North West MEP Marian Harkin will this Saturday host a meeting of Independent politicians to discuss a strategy for returning Independent candidates in the forthcoming Seanad election.
Harkin, Ireland's only Independent MEP, will host the meeting in the Hodson Bay Hotel Athlone with fellow Independents Dublin North Central TD Finian McGrath and outgoing Senator Joe O’Toole.
“Apart from those independent senators returned from the University Panel there has been no representation of independent politics in the Seanad, and this is a deficit which needs to be rectified,” Ms Harkin said of the meetign.
“Independent councillors, together with Independent TDs and senators, represent a potential voting bloc of 140, sufficient to elect senators on most panels. The aim of the meeting next Saturday is to see to what extent this voting force can be mobilised to support Independent candidates, or persons with identifiable expertise who could make a significant impact in the Seanad.
“The Independent university senators have consistently provided the most exceptional contributions to Seanad debates and evaluation of legislation, and if they are joined by other able independents representing the different strands of society, this will add to the health and vitality of Irish democracy,” she added.
Ms Harkin believes the strong showing of Independents in last week's General Election proves the time is ripe for this important bloc in Irish democracy to make its presence felt.
“Either directly, or in co-operation with other voting blocs, there is every prospect of gaining representation in Seanad Éireann for independent politics which increasingly has the support of the public. At next Saturday’s meeting the method of ascertaining the best route to securing enhanced representation in Seanad Éireann for Independents will be intensively examined,” the Independent MEP for Ireland North West concluded.