Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein to support unionist candidate in by-election to Irish Seanad

By Gareth Cross

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald has announced that her party will be supporting a unionist in the upcoming Seanad by-election.

Ian Marshall, a former President of the Ulster Farmers Union currently owns a farm near Markethill in Co Armagh.

He has also worked at Queen's University Belfast as Business Development Manager.

The Seanad is the upper house of the legislature of the Republic of Ireland and is not directly elected.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar nominated Mr Marshall for the seat, left vacant by the resignation of Labour Senator Denis Landy.

To be elected Mr Marshall will require support from current members of the Dáil (TDs) and senators.

The by-election is due to take place on Friday.

“I am pleased to confirm that Sinn Féin will be supporting Ian Marshall in the upcoming Seanad by-election," Ms McDonald said.

“I have met with Ian on a number of occasions in recent weeks and I have been impressed by his views on Brexit and the potential impact Brexit will have on the island, north and south.

“I believe Ian will be a strong Independent voice in the Seanad; providing an anti-Brexit unionist perspective, which is a welcome addition to the political discourse surrounding the issue in the Oireachtas. Brexit affects people from all backgrounds and ways of life; nationalist, unionists and everyone in between."

Mr Marshall opposed Brexit and has been outspoken on the issue.

“From his time as a farmer, as President of the Ulster Farmers Union, and his current position at Queens University, Ian is particularly qualified and experienced to advocate on behalf of farmers and the Agri-sector; which faces massive challenges in the time ahead," the Sinn Fein President said.

“Ian is a unionist. I am an Irish Republican. As I have stated repeatedly, the Ireland I want to see is one where one can comfortably be Irish or British, both or neither. I believe Ian can bring a new and interesting voice to the discussion surrounding a New Ireland.

“I want to wish him the very best of luck when the votes are counted on Friday.”

Mr Marshall is being challenged for one of two seats on the Seanad's agriculture panel by the sister of sitting TD Kate O'Connell, who is a member of Mr Varadkar's Fine Gael party.

He will also have to defeat Mary Newman, a long-time Fine Gael member and Tipperary vet, to become a senator.

The Markethill man will face further competition from Kerry County Councillor and Fine Gael stalwart Bobby O'Connell.

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