Villanova's legendary miler and "Chairman of the Boards" at the Millrose Games has been nominated by Irish Taoiseach (aka Prime Minister) Enda Kenny for a seat in Ireland's upper parliamentary chamber, the Seanad. The former 5000 meters world champion and three-time Olympian was appointed for his work as Director of the Crumlin Children’s Medical & Research Foundation and has appeared at campaign events for the party Fine Gael, Ireland's major center-right party.
Ireland's Senate is comprised of 60 members. Forty-nine of the sixty are indirectly elected, and 11 are appointed by the Taoiseach. Falling into the latter category, Coghlan will begin his 5-year term in the Seanad on Wednesday, June 1st.
Here's how the Irish Times reported the story over the weekend:
The Irish Times
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Martin McAleese among Taoiseach's Seanad Nominees
MARTIN McALEESE, the husband of President Mary McAleese, has been nominated by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the 24th Seanad.
Dr McAleese, a dentist, is one of several prominent public figures among the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees to the Upper House. Others include the renowned former international athlete Eamonn Coghlan, the artistic director of the Abbey Theatre Fiach Mac Conghail, and academic and rights campaigner Katherine Zappone.
The selection of Dr McAleese has been received as the most surprising nomination. He said last night he was pleased and honoured to be nominated and stressed he would be an Independent member of the Upper House.
The Belfast-born Dr McAleese will take his seat when the 24th Seanad convenes for the first time next Wednesday. But he said he would not accept any salary until President McAleese leaves office later this year. “I greatly look forward to serving as an Independent member of the Seanad. I will not be affiliated with any particular party or grouping and will focus on issues which affect the practical interests of the people of Ireland, especially in regard to economic regeneration and employment.
“I will also continue, as best I can, to contribute to political harmony and reconciliation on this island.”
He said he would continue to support the President in the performance of her duties while also commencing his new role as a senator.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore recommended four of the 11 nominated members to the 60-seat Upper House: Dr Zappone, general election candidates Lorraine Higgins from Galway East and Mary Moran from Louth, and Aideen Hayden, the chairwoman of Threshold. Of the seven Fine Gael nominees, only one, Louth county council member Jim Darcy, is a serving politician.
The other Fine Gael selections are: Dr McAleese; Mr Coghlan; Mr Mac Conghail; Mary Ann O’Brien, managing director of Lily O’Brien’s Chocolates and co-founder of the Jack and Jill Foundation; Dublin City University lecturer Marie Louise O’Donnell; and Jillian van Turnhout of the Children’s Rights Alliance.
Ms O’Donnell is a member of Fine Gael and Ms van Turnhout’s husband, Michael, is party chairman. But Ms van Turnhout said last night that Mr Kenny had made it “very clear to her that she was an Independent”, though she would respect the fact that she had been nominated by Mr Kenny. Mr Kenny told all Fine Gael nominees that voting would be a matter for the individual and there would be no compulsion to take the party whip.