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Sunday 21 January 2018

Jack and Jill chief sets sights on Seanad seat

Jonathan Irwin Photo: Tony Gavin
Jonathan Irwin Photo: Tony Gavin
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Children's charity boss, Jonathan Irwin is set to throw his hat in the ring for election to the new Seanad, the Sunday Independent has learned.

If elected, the founder of the Jack and Jill Foundation says his main priority will be to represent people with disabilities.

"I feel very strongly about our Government's lack of interest in the disabled, particularly my own children who should be entitled to automatic medical cards, I would like to have a chance to get in there and give them a voice as an Independent," he said.

The 75-year-old also hopes to advocate for carers and the provision of suitable, effective nursing homes and retirement villages for the elderly.

He will also continue to champion a cause "very close" to his heart - the location of the new National Children's Hospital. "St James's Hospital campus is the wrong location; 75pc of my children at Jack and Jill - that's over 2,000 families - live outside the M50, so Connolly Hospital, in Blanchardstown, is the ideal site," he said.

Last week marked the closing date of nominations for this year's Seanad Eireann election. The Seanad is composed of 60 senators, with 43 elected on vocational panels from an electorate composed of TDs, Senators and local councillors. Eleven are elected by the Taoiseach and six elected by graduates of Trinity College Dublin and the National University of Ireland (NUI).

Labour Party junior ministers Aodhan O Riordain, Kevin Humphreys, and Ged Nash are expected to seek the Labour nomination for a seat in the upper house, after losing their Dail seats.

Meanwhile, Mr Irwin also revealed his plans to step down as chief executive of the Jack and Jill Children's Foundation. Hugo Jellett, a native of Kildare, has been appointed incoming CEO.

"He is going to be extremely good. I'll step down next January. It'll be difficult, but I think I've left my baby in very safe hands," said Mr Irwin, who will become executive chairman of the charity he founded in 1997.

Sunday Independent

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