Former President of UCD Students’ Union, James Carroll, has been nominated to fill a vacant seat in Seanad Éireann. The seat became vacant following the death of Senator Tony Kett earlier this year.
Carroll was offered the seat by an Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, in his capacity as leader of Fianna Fáil, before being approved by a vote of the parliamentary party. The election will take place in December of this year.
Carroll currently works in Leinster House as a full-time parliamentary assistant to Margaret Conlon, a TD for Cavan-Monaghan. He was also elected to Louth County Council during the summer.
Carroll told The University Observer that he was “very honoured and humbled to receive the nomination”. He went on to say that he thought himself well suited to the job, and that he would “hit the ground running if I am lucky enough to be elected for the Seanad it’s not going to take me six or nine months to get to know my way around.”
Unlike traditional Seanad elections, in which members of the country’s local and county councils are entitled to vote, voting in by-elections is only extended to TDs and existing Senators.
Carroll’s election is likely to proceed unchallenged, as the Government hold majorities in both houses of the Oireachtas. However, Carroll has pledged to personally ask all 166 parliamentary officials for their vote. If elected Carroll will have to forego his current position as a member of Louth County Council.
Asked what priorities he would pursue if elected, Carroll was quick to refer to the Ireland’s unemployed, saying “the biggest thing is getting people back to work and in employment.” He went on to describe economic stimulus packages as a “vital ingredient” of economic recovery, saying “I don’t think they are the sole [solution], but I think they are absolutely a vital part of it.”
Carroll (26) served as UCDSU President in 2005-06, following a successful stint as Education Officer the previous year. He was also chairman of the Kevin Barry Cumann, the UCD branch of the Fianna Fáil party. The Law graduate referred to UCD as “the best experience of my life”, continuing that “it’s not solely what you learn in the classroom; you learn life lessons in UCD to deal with people, people with different opinions, different views, and try and tie them all together so you can push forward for the greater good.”