An Irish citizenship campaigner from Northern Ireland is considering a bid for the Seanad after a number of Fine Gael TDs put her name forward for nomination.
Emma DeSouza has been involved in a long legal battle with the Home Office over whether being born in Northern Ireland automatically confers a person with British citizenship.
A senior Fine Gael source told the PA news agency: “If there is to be an independent Senator from Northern Ireland then either Emma de Souza or former Senator Ian Marshall would be obvious choices.”
To even be mentioned as a name worthy of a Taoiseach nomination is a great honor, I am grateful for the consideration— Emma DeSouza (@EmmandJDeSouza) June 13, 2020
It would be an incredible opportunity to represent the principles of GFA & the people of NI as an independent. It would also pave the way for the next generation pic.twitter.com/T0mY01v2SG
“Ian was a strong voice for both moderate unionists and pro European voices while Emma’s campaign to protect her rights under the Good Friday Agreement has been inspirational.”
Ms DeSouza told PA it is a great honour to have her name put forward as a potential Taoiseach’s nomination for the Seanad.
“To even be mentioned is a great honour. It would be an invaluable opportunity that I as a independent advocate for the principles of the Good Friday Agreement would accept.”
She said there has never been a time when the voice of someone living in Northern Ireland is needed more in the Irish political sphere.
“Northern voices are so needed right now. We now know for 100% that there will be no extension to the Brexit transition period and there is going to be a severe impact on the North’s economy as a result.”
Ms DeSouza said extending voting rights to Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland and abroad and upholding the principles of the Good Friday Agreement are among the issues she would work on if she became a Senator.
She said that as an apolitical figure, she would bring an independent new voice to the Seanad.
Ian Marshall, a Unionist farmer and anti-Brexit campaigner was a Senator in the last Seanad after being approached by Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar.
She said: “Ian was a fantastic Senator and is a great friend of mine and I totally support him being nominated again. He provided a Unionist voice in the Seanad so I would be providing something different.”
“I believe I represent the growing middle ground in Northern Ireland and have campaigned for protections for both the nationalist and unionist communities.
“I have no political background and have worked tirelessly as a campaigner for the past few years. Many Irish citizens in the North feel like second class citizens so I want to be able to provide a voice for them.”
The Taoiseach of the next government is empowered to nominate 12 appointees but a new government has yet to be formed. It is expected at least one of these will be from Northern Ireland.
Government formation talks continued between Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party on Saturday.
Deputy Green Party leader Catherine Martin said they hope to get a deal done over the weekend.
If a programme for government is agreed, it must be voted on by the membership of all the parties in order for it to pass.
This would mean a government is likely to be formed at the end of June or the start of July.