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'I’m not going to lie to people, I’d much rather be in the Dáil'

Last month Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said he wasn’t going to “kick around the Seanad’ if he lost his Dáil seat. Now he’s changed his mind.

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OUTGOING LABOUR MINISTER Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has defended his u-turn on running for the Seanad, insisting he is entitled to change his mind.

Prior to losing his seat in Dublin Bay North last month, Ó Ríordáin told Newstalk that he was ”not going to kick around the Seanad for five years” and would leave politics if he lost his seat.

This clip has been circulating since it was announced that he would be contesting the forthcoming Seanad election:


Source: RichardChambers/SoundCloud

Ó Ríordáin is now running for a seat on the Seanad’s industrial and commercial panel having beaten outgoing senators Lorraine Higgins and John Kelly in an internal party battle to be the Labour nominee.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this week, Ó Ríordáin said he was prepared to walk away from politics, but changed his mind.

“I thought about it and I spoke to my family about it and the question was: Do you walk away or do you try and stay in the Oireachtas? And that’s your choice,” he said.

He explained why he changed his mind:

Source: Michael Sheils McNamee

I think you’re entitled to change your mind. The problem I think sometimes with politics and also, if you don’t mind me saying so, media analysis of politics [is] if a politician changes his or her mind, it’s viewed as being weak, flip-flopper, hypocrite or whatever.

Ó Ríordáin said he didn’t like the idea of “kicking around the Seanad for five years” but said without being there he would be unable to push various agendas, citing reforms to Direct Provision, the Eighth Amendment and recognising Travellers’ ethnicity.

These are all issues he has worked on as minister of state with responsibility for new communities, culture, equality and drugs strategy. Despite no longer being a TD, he retains this role until a new government is formed

I could just leave that to other people or I can say that maybe I have a role to play here and also, if I’m perfectly honest about it, the fact that the Labour party are in such a difficult space, I feel if I was to walk away now, I would be maybe not being as beneficial to the party as I might be. I think, not being arrogant about it, that I do have a role, to play in rebuilding the party.

In January 2013, Ó Ríordáin said he believed it was not possible to reform “a discredited Seanad chamber” – some nine months before the failed referendum to abolish the house.

Source: Labour/YouTube

But he said he’d also changed his mind on this following two years of speaking on behalf of the government in the upper house.

“When you’re in there as a minister of state, you do come across some pretty well-informed debate and it’s different than the Dáil. The Dáil is quite adversarial, it’s quite fake,” Ó Ríordáin said.

“[The Seanad] doesn’t necessarily have as much of a government versus opposition feel about it. Certainly not the bit I was involved in.”

But he admitted that his ultimate ambition is to return to the Dáil, adding:

Look, I’m not going to lie to people, I’d much rather be in the Dáil. But if I want to stay in politics I want to have a political platform to say what I want to say and the Seanad offers me that platform.

“It’s an opportunity to pursue the agenda. I just don’t feel I’m finished yet, I don’t feel the things I believe in have run their course.”

If he fails to win election to the upper house next month, Ó Ríordáin refused to rule out running for the Dáil again, but added:

If I don’t get elected to the Seanad, you’ve just taken two rejections. If you get two rejections at a teenage disco, you kind of go home.

‘So obsessed with publicity’: Outgoing Labour minister’s parting shot at Leo

Read: Three Labour ministers who lost their Dáil seats are going for the Seanad

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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