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Tuesday 23 July 2019

Former Tánaiste Michael McDowell and ex-union chief David Begg to contest Seanad election

Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell
David Begg. Photo: Tom Burke
Michael McDowell Pic:Mark Condren
David Begg. Photo: Damien Eagers
Michael McDowell

Philip Ryan and Ciara Treacy

FORMER Justice Minister Michael McDowell and ex-union chief David Begg are seeking to be elected to the next Seanad.

Mr McDowell and Mr Begg both put their names forward to be elected to the Seanad's National University of Ireland panel.

The panel elects three members to the upper chamber and the sitting senators are Ronan Mullen, John Crown and Feargal Quinn.

Mr McDowell, a former attorney general and leader of the Progressive Democrats, is being proposed by Mr Quinn and former NUI senator, John A Murphy.

Former Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Mr Begg was recently at the centre of controversy over his appointment as chair of Pensions Authority by Labour leader Joan Burton

In a statement tonight, Mr Begg said the economic recovery is "still fragile".

"It faces very serious challenges on many fronts including health, housing, education, low incomes, childcare and pensions. The international backdrop of market volatility also means that favourable growth conditions cannot be assumed to continue indefinitely," he said.

“Our susceptibility to boom and bust cycles suggests that there are deep structural flaws in our development model. I believe that we need to become more like the small open economies of Northern Europe, especially the Nordic countries. Not only are they sustainable but they are consistently amongst the most economically efficient and socially cohesive in the world. They have proven that high quality public services and low levels of inequality in society complement rather than detract from competiveness," he added.

Mr McDowell was a vocal figure during the 2013 referendum on the abolition of the Seanad and campaigned for its retention.

He also advised a working group on reforming the upper house.

A founding member of the Progressive Democrats (PDs) party, Mr McDowell was first elected to the Dáil in 1987 and served as Tánaiste in 2006 and 2007.

He is also a former Attorney General of Ireland and former Minister for Justice.

He resigned as PDs leader after losing his seat in the 2007 general election and returned to work as a Senior Counsel.

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