INDEPENDENT SENATOR Martin McAleese is to resign from the Seanad, it has been confirmed.
McAleese, who was appointed to the Seanad as one of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s 11 nominees in May 2011, has written to Paddy Burke, the Seanad Cathaoirleach, to confirm his resignation from the Oireachtas.
The resignation will not formally take effect, however, until the Cathaoirleach can announce it to the Seanad. This will occur on Tuesday when the house returns from its weekend break.
McAleese, a dental surgeon who is the husband of former president Mary McAleese, has been a relatively quiet voice in the Seanad – only speaking on a handful of occasions and only voting once, to oppose the cut to the respite care grant in the Budget in December 2012.
His resignation coincides with the publication of the report by the inter-departmental committee examining the State’s role in abuse at the Magdalene Laundries, a committee which McAleese had chaired.
That report is due to be presented to the cabinet next Tuesday morning and published that afternoon – just as his resignation from the Seanad is confirmed.
Throughout his wife’s tenure as President, Martin McAleese took particular interest in the Northern Ireland peace process and in particular building relationships with unionist paramilitaries – moves which encouraged them to decommission and focus on peaceful politics.
He also contributed to various social initiatives – particularly with the GAA – to encourage greater social outreach to older people living alone, and particularly older men. Last year he was appointed the chancellor of Dublin City University.
McAleese did not draw a salary or accept any Seanad expenses while his wife was President. He will not be entitled to a parliamentary pension, having served less than the requisite two years, but will be entitled to a severance lump sum worth just under €11,000.
Because McAleese was appointed to the Seanad by the Taoiseach and not an elected member, the Taoiseach can hand-pick his successor.