Saturday 24 February 2018

Disability rights campaigner to run for Seanad

Senan Molony Political Correspondent

DISABILITY rights campaigner Kathryn Sinnott will contest the Seanad election on the Labour panel after the ruling of a High Court judge last night.

Judge Daniel Herbert decided she was "eminently suitable" for the panel as he approved the final list of candidates for the election in the middle of next month.

Six-and-a-half-hours of hearings were held at Leinster House yesterday into whether Ms Sinnott (51) qualified for the Labour ballot, which requires "knowledge and practical experience" of the sector.

The question over her suitability was raised by Returning Officer Deirdre Lane, clerk of the Seanad, in the exercise of her office. The issue turned on whether the work of carers, whom Ms Sinnott says she represents, qualifies as "Labour" in an acceptable sense.

Ms Lane had previously been in correspondence with Ms Sinnott, who was beaten by just six votes in the cliffhanger election count in Cork South Central recently. It was suggested she should have instead contested another panel, such as Administration, which encompasses "social services, including voluntary social activities."

Ms Sinnott gave evidence under oath in her own case. She had been nominated to the Labour panel by four Independent TDs - Jerry Cowley, Seamus Healy, Finian McGrath and Marian Harkin.

Last night she denied the lower quota applying on the Labour panel had been a factor. The Labour panel has 11 seats, as against seven available on the Administration panel.

Ms Sinnott said: "I had chosen Labour anyway, because caring for the disabled is a labour issue."

Article 18 of the Constitution, she said, backed her case.

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