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Dudgeon to launch Ulster Unionist bid for Seanad seat

Jeffrey Dudgeon, whose court action had homosexuality decriminalised in Northern Ireland in 1982, wants to join the Seanad.

Jeffrey Dudgeon is best known for his successful legal challenge against laws that criminalised homosexuality in Northern Ireland.
Jeffrey Dudgeon is best known for his successful legal challenge against laws that criminalised homosexuality in Northern Ireland.
Image: adambangor via Flickr

THIS YEAR’S SEANAD elections may be the last one ever held, if the new government comes through on its promise to hold a referendum abolishing it – but before that happens, this year’s election could prove historic.

A member of the Ulster Unionist Party – which has an electoral alliance with David Cameron’s Conservative party in Britain – has announced his intention to run for election to the Seanad, hoping to become the first ever member of the UUP to serve in the Oireachtas.

Jeffrey Dudgeon, a human rights campaigner and former civil servant, is one of the 20 people seeking three seats filled by graduates of Trinity College – and, if elected, would make a small piece of electoral history.

The News Letter reports that Dudgeon believed the fact that the Queen was to visit the Republic of Ireland was a sign of growing political maturity between the two countries.

We are heading back to a time before partition when the differences between the two parts and the two peoples of Ireland, particularly southern Catholics and northern Protestants, are not as extreme as they became.

“I am asking the voters to make history by electing an Ulster Protestant who is a liberal unionist, thus allowing that voice to be heard for the first time for decades,” Dudgeon added, saying he felt a Northern Irish voice was “missing” from the Seanad.

Dudgeon is best known for the case he brought to the European Court of Human Rights in in 1980  which ultimately led to homosexuality being decriminalised in Northern Ireland.

If elected by the Trinity graduates, where an incumbent’s seat is vacant following the election of Shane Ross to the Dáil, Dudgeon would likely sit in the Upper House alongside David Norris – who brought a similarly victorious case on homosexuality to Strasbourg in 1988.

Dudgeon is best known within UUP circles as being a former staff officer within the party, though he previously ran for the House of Commons himself, as an unsuccessful independent Labour candidate in 1979.

Read more in the News Letter >

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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