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Alex Kane

Can there ever be a unionist voice in the Irish Senate again?

Alex Kane


Half the problem lies in establishing just who - if anyone - 'speaks for' unionism in the first place, writes Alex Kane

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Former Irish Senator Ian Marshall

Former Irish Senator Ian Marshall

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

Sinn Fein Senator Niall O’ Donnghaile

Sinn Fein Senator Niall O’ Donnghaile

Former Irish Senator Ian Marshall

There was some surprise last week when Taoiseach Micheal Martin didn't appoint a unionist to Seanad Eireann, the upper house of the Oireachtas. Former senator Ian Marshall, who had hoped to be nominated, claimed the "entire unionist community feels let down and left behind. The message this sends out is that you don't really matter here."

Sinn Fein Senator Niall O Donnghaile tweeted: "I expressed my own personal and, indeed, much of our shared frustration at the failure to nominate an appointee from the north to the 26th Seanad, not least a unionist voice, given the sterling work of Ian Marshall in the last term."

Shortly after he became Taoiseach in June 2017, Leo Varadkar addressed the Seanad and argued that both nationalist and unionist representatives would "provide different voices on issues which concern us all".