Gerard Craughwell,

  • At the  Order of Business in the Seanad today,  I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs to come to the Seanad today to explain how the Irish Government intends to defend every line and dot of the Good Friday Agreement in light of this morning’s ruling by  the UK Supreme Court.


  • Speaking today on the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2015, Senator Gerard CraughwellI began by congratulating  Minister Howlin and the staff of his Department who successfully  negotiated the Lansdowne Road agreement giving benefit to some low paid cohorts in the Public Sector and the unions who  signed up to it.

  • Dear Friends, it has been a busy and eventful year and I have much to be grateful for. My sincere thanks to the City and County Councillors who elected me to the 25th Seanad and to members of the ICPSA who nominated me. It is an honour to represent you.   As a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs and the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement Committee, I have been very involved in the preparations for Brexit which I believe is one the most serious international issues facing Ireland. At home, my efforts have been concentrated on important legislation including the Planning and Development  (Residential Tenancies ) Bill which will be passed into law this week.  As we all know, legislation alone will not solve the worsening homelessness crisis because at the heart of market triumphalism there is still the  greed  of the few at the expense of the many. Greed is the biggest personal and political challenge we face and we need to keep thinking and talking about it until it is solved.  I want to thank each and every one of you for engaging with me during the year and I look forward to sharing 2017 with you. 


    This is the Upper House of the Oireachtas or Parliament. It is called the Seanad in Irish or Senate in English and its members are called Senators. The modern Seanad Éireann was established by the Constitution of Ireland in 1937. The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of Ireland and it established an Independent State based on a system of representative Democracy. Unlike the Dáil which is directly elected, Senators are  partly appointed, partly indirectly elected and partly elected by a limited electorate.

    Deputy's speeches




    Seanad Éireann consists of sixty Senators:

    ·         Eleven are appointed by the Taoiseach 

    ·         Six are elected by the graduates of certain Irish universities:

    ·         Three by graduates of the University of Dublin.

    ·         Three by graduates of the National University of Ireland.

    ·         Forty Three  elected from five special panels of nominees known as Vocational Panels by an electorate consisting of TDs(member of Dáil Éireann), Senators and City and County councillors.

    Nomination is restrictive for the panel seats with only Oireachtas members and designated 'nominating bodies' entitled to nominate. Each of the five panels consists, in theory, of individuals possessing special knowledge of, or experience in, one of five specific fields. In practice the nominees are party members, often, though not always, failed or aspiring Dáil candidates:

    ·               Administrative Panel: Public administration and social services (including the voluntary sector).

    ·               Agricultural Panel: Agriculture and the fisheries.

    ·               Cultural and Educational Panel: Education, the arts, the Irish language and Irish culture and literature

    ·               Industrial and Commercial Panel: Industry and commerce (including engineering and architecture).

    ·               Labour Panel: Labour (organised or otherwise).

    Under the Constitution of Ireland the general election for the Seanad must occur not later than 90 days after the dissolution of Dáil Éireann. The election occurs under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote (however in the panel constituencies each vote counts as 1000 meaning fractions of votes can be transferred). Membership is open to all Irish citizens over 21, but a senator cannot also be a member of Dáil Éireann. However, as stated above, nomination to vocational panel seats is restricted; while nomination in the University constituencies requires signatures of 10 graduates.


    In the case of a vacancy in the Vocational Panels, by death, resignation or election to the European Parliament, a Seanad by-election takes place. Seanad by-elections involve Oireachtas members only, which in the past have ensured that the Government of the Day decides the successful candidate. University vacancies, however, are filled under different rules, wherein the university in question holds a specific by-election.  In October 2014 a Seanad vacancy arose by the election to the European Parliament of Senator Deirdre Clune. I contested and won that election on the 10th of October and was honoured to be appointed to the Cultural and Educational Panel and a Senator in the 24th Seanad


    Every citizen of Ireland over 21 years of age who is not disqualified by the Constitution or by law is eligible to be elected to the Seanad. Persons undergoing a prison sentence in excess of six months and persons of unsound mind are disqualified for election. Certain occupations are incompatible with membership of the Seanad, for example, members of the judiciary, senior officials of the institutions of the European Union, civil servants, whole-time members of the Defence Forces and Gardaí (police).


     A general election to the Seanad must take place not later than 90 days after the dissolution of the Dáil (Lower House). The dates for the various stages of the election (nomination, polling, etc.) are appointed by order of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.


    Before each General Election five panels are formed of candidates having knowledge and practical experience of the following interests and services respectively:- (i) Cultural and Educational Panel: - national language and culture, literature, art, education, law and medicine; (ii) Agricultural Panel: - agricultural and allied interests and fisheries; (iii) Labour Panel: - labour, whether organised or unorganised; (iv) Industrial and Commercial Panel: - industry and commerce, including banking, finance, accountancy, engineering and architecture; (v) Administrative Panel: - public administration and social services, including voluntary social activities                                                      


     The Seanad returning officer (Clerk of the Seanad) maintains a register of bodies entitled to nominate candidates to the panels of candidates. To be eligible for registration as a nominating body, an organisation must be concerned mainly with and be representative of the interests and services of one or other of the panels. A body cannot be registered in respect of more than one panel. Organisations which are mainly profit-making concerns are not eligible for registration. The register is revised annually.





    Senator Gerard Craughwell is Ireland's’ newest and only independently elected Senator. He is a teacher in the further education sector and past president of the Teachers Union of Ireland.  He was elected to the Culture and Education Panel of the Seanad and is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection. Since his election in October 2014, Gerard has made a very significant contribution to the legislative process by proposing amendments to a wide range of Bills. He has remained true to his promise not be “whipped by any party” and to “consider each vote as it arises”. He is passionate about the value of the Independent Politician as a leader and advocate of honest politics. He is deeply committed to Seanad Reform, Education and the Labour Movement. 


    I was born in Galway in 1953 and am  one of eleven children.  I am  married to Helen and I have  two children David and Rebecca and one grandchild Ellie. I started work at the age of 16 as a bar man in London but was always  drawn to a military life and a few months after starting work in London  I  joined the Kings Division Depot of the Royal Irish Rangers as a boy soldier. The training was tough but by the time I   was 17  I   was a first class signals operator, the youngest Lance Corporal in the regiment and  had completed my   first instructors course. Life was good.

    I  stayed in the British Army until 1974 when I   was forced to make a choice between the British Army and a return to Ireland and I  choose the latter. I  was fortunate to be able to join the Irish Army and having survived the ordeal of recruit basic training for the second time and this time as Gaeilge,  I   was soon transferred to the Non Commissioned Officers training school for  the Western Command where I   was appointed as Corporal and later Sergeant and a instructor in the training school. 

    In 1980 an opportunity came to allow me   to leave the army and take over a contract my   father had with Calor Gas. Three  days after I   finished with the army,  Calor Gas took a decision to dispense with external contractors.  I   was out of the army and had no contract.  I  formed a Limited Company GAS Ltd (Galway Appliance Services Ltd) and very soon secured a contract with Flo Gas.  The business grew rapidly we moved from domestic work into industrial work. Despite working every hour God sent me the Company failed and in 1983 it went into Liquidation.  This was a very tough time for our family as we lost our home and everything we had.

    Encouraged by my wife Helen I looked for work everywhere and got a job as a Part-time Driver with Underfoot Distributors Ltd Athlone, Co. Westmeath.  The work was hard and the hours long but I was grateful to be able to provide for my family again. As luck would have it I  was blessed to  get a good job with Aughinish Alumina Ltd in 1986. The company paid for our re-location to Limerick where we began a whole new life. In 1990 as a result of a serious back injury my career with Aughinish came to an end.  I was 37 and without qualifications. Once again fate intervened and an ad in the The Limerick Post’  offering a BSc in Economics jumped off the page at me.  My early days at Limerick Senior College  were among the most stressful days of my life, but unlike my earlier educational experiences,  LSC was not like school.  I will never forget the kindness and professionalism of those who taught there. 

    Despite  many pressures  I succeeded in my course  and  one of the proudest days of my life was my graduation from the London School of Economics in  the Barbican Centre London.  Following my graduation I was given 11 hours teaching at LSC  while undertaking a Post Graduate Diploma in Computing at the University of Limerick.  In 1995 having qualified with a Graduate Diploma in Computing I started work at the Senior College Dun Laoghaire and my family made another move, this time to Dublin. 

    From the moment I arrived at SCD I was aware of the "can-do" ethos just like I had experienced  at LSC.  However now the shoe was on the other foot and I was the one at the blackboard.  The level of collegiately I experienced at SCD was incredible. I became an  Assistant Principal in the school and an active member of the Teachers Union of Ireland  where I was   Chairman of the Further education Committee for the TUI Executive Committee and a Board Member of the TUI Credit Union.  I was the sole Irish Committee Member of the Information Technology Certifying Organisation CompTIA. In 2012 I was thrilled to become  the President of the TUI a post I held until 2014.

    In September 2014 I entered my name as a candidate for the Seanad By Election and was elected. It was with great pride and honour that I took my seat  on the 14th of October 2014 as a member of  the Culture and Education Panel of Seanad Eireann. You can view my first introduction to Seanad Eireann here: 

  • In August 2017 I became concerned that the main political parties in Leinster House were working together to deny the citizens of this Republic the opportunity to select their next President by means of an election.
    I feared that members of the Oireachtas and City and County Councillors would be prevented by the party whip from exercising their democratic right to nominate candidates and that the Presidency would simply be "rolled over" uncontested for another 7 years.

  • Today (19 Feb 2019) at the Order of Business in the Seanad,  I  countered the very serious suggestion by the Leader of the House, Senator Jerry Buttimer,  Fine Gael that the ongoing debate  on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 is bringing the Seanad into disrepute. It has been implied that the almost 70  hours of debate has damaged the reputation of the Seanad and by implication its members.  I pointed out that since the commencement of Committee Stage debate, the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption had questioned whether the  Bill was in line with European Standards and if it actually secured judicial independence. In addition the European Commission in a report in March 2018 was definitive and explicit in its  view  that the Bill was not in line with European Standards. As recently as November 2018 the Irish Times Editorial stated “It is still not too late for the Government to scrap the ill-advised Judicial Appointments Bill being foisted on the country at the whim of Minister for Transport,  Shane Ross.”

  • By the end of September, the Irish Defence Forces (DF) will have reached an all time low. An all time low in numbers and in morale. Proud experienced Officers, NCO’s and enlisted women and men are walking away from the career they placed their hopes and dreams in. Young women and men who want to serve their country are opting for jobs in supermarkets or fast food outlets leaving behind careers destroyed by a failure of those in charge to understand their own mismanagement. The situation is I believe made worse by political interference forcing uniformed personnel to lower standards to present an image of an organisation with a plan.


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