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'My son will never live independently. I fear for his future when I'm dead'

Dr Tom Clonan, a security analyst and former army captain, is running for the Seanad.

19/1/2010 Safeguards for Whistleblowers Reports Tom Clonan Source: RollingNews.ie

TOM CLONAN, the Irish Times security analyst and disability campaigner, is running for the Seanad, saying he fears for the future of his severely disabled son if he doesn’t.

Clonan hopes to unseat one of the three incumbents on the Seanad’s Trinity panel, but admits he faces an uphill task against Labour’s Ivana Bacik and the high-profile independents David Norris and Sean D Barrett.

Clonan’s 13-year-old son, Eoghan, suffers from a rare neuromuscular disease and requires constant physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, hydrotherapy and ongoing paediatric, neurological and surgical review.

“Eoghan will never live independently and when I’m dead, on the basis of what I’ve seen in last five years, I really fear for his future without me,” Clonan told TheJournal.ie today.

The story of Eoghan and his assistance dog ‘Duke’ featured in an award-winning RTE radio documentary Superdog which was broadcast in 2012.

IMG_1014 Eoghan with his assistance dog 'Duke'

If elected, Clonan said he will campaign for more money and resources to fund extra supports for carers as well as services such as physiotherapy and occupational and speech therapy for young adults with disabilities.

“My motivation for running is because I have to try and do something. We’ve seen senators who have been able to achieve constructive change in specific areas,” he said.

Averil Power has done things for adopted rights, Jillian van Turnhout for children’s rights, Katherine Zappone for marriage equality. So we need to do something for kids and young adults with disabilities and carers.

Clonan is also a former army captain whose doctoral thesis, published in 2000, revealed widespread bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault of female soldiers in the Defence Forces. His work led to a statutory inquiry and eventual reforms.

He said another area he would focus on if elected is the issue of unelected advisors to government and their cost to the taxpayer, saying “a light needs to be shone” on the area.

“If the advisers and handlers are not acting in public interest they should not be paid out of the public purse. They should be paid by the parties.

social media Clonan says social media will play a big role in his campaign Source: Twitter

The salary costs to taxpayers of these advisers and handlers runs into millions per annum and that’s not counting expenses and mileage. That money could employ hundreds of speech therapists, occupational therapists. It’s a no brainer.

Clonan admitted he is a one-man campaign with the only budget being the money he used to pay for his website. He said the lack of resources was the main reason why he opted out of running for the Dáil in his constituency of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

The 49-year-old said he hopes social media can drive his campaign in the coming months He said he’s been told his work with the Irish Times will not be affected by his political ambitions.

Clonan added: “I can’t look my son in the eye unless I try to do something for him and I think with the resources I have it’s [the Seanad] the only place I can make a difference.”

Read: ‘It’s not the best use of police resources when rural people are worried about criminal gangs’

Read: A Fine Gael TD is being challenged by his own brother

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