Seanad candidate Ruth Coppinger takes aim at “deeply conservative” Rónán Mullen and Michael McDowell

Former Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger has criticised Senators Michael McDowell and Rónán Mullen, saying they “[aren’t] representative of the positive changes that have happened in Ireland.”

Speaking at the launch of her Seanad campaign in NUI Galway, Ms Coppinger attacked Senator McDowell’s record as Minister for Justice.

She described the former Tánaiste as “an absolute pillar of the establishment for 30 years at this stage”.

She criticised Senator McDowell’s introduction of direct provision and what she described as the “disgraceful and divisive” referendum to ban birthright citizenship.

Ms Coppinger also criticised Senator Mullen’s opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion and described him as “a candidate of Iona [Institute]”.

“I think a lot of people were disgusted, aghast at particularly his role in the 8th Amendment Oireachtas committee, where he had the equal vote of a TD which does show you the power that some senators have. He used his position to hold back social progress in this country.”

“There is an appetite among a certain number of people who voted for repeal and who canvassed for repeal and other referendums, to dislodge him.”

Ms Coppinger had campaigned for the abolition of the upper house during the 2013 referendum, which she describes as an “elitist” institution.

She said that she would use a seat in the chamber to campaign for progressive and socialist issues.

Among the issues she intends to address are the housing crisis, violence against women, as well as public sector pay inequality.

When asked by Galway Pulse if she felt the Seanad needed to be reformed, she said she would like all graduates to be entitled to a vote.

She also stated that would like to overturn the 27th Amendment of the Constitution which outlawed birthright citizenship after being passed by referendum in 2004.

Ms Coppinger is one of 19 declared candidates for the National University of Ireland constituency.

She formerly represented the Dublin West constituency before losing her seat in the recent general election.

The three seats in the NUI constituency are currently held by Senators Mullen and McDowell, as well as Senator Alice-Mary Higgins.

The NUI seats are filled by an electorate of over 110,000 graduates of NUI Galway, Maynooth University (formerly NUI Maynooth), UCD and UCC.

Senator Rónán Mullen issued the following statement after being contacted by Galway Pulse:

“I work for a society that includes everyone and respects the dignity of each person. I am unafraid to challenge the political establishment in the interests of justice and fairness, and am proud to have stood up for genuinely liberal values – respect for human rights and children’s rights in particular. I am committed to working with people of all views towards achieving the common good. I reject negative political campaigning and personalised attacks, and am more interested in finding solutions that protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

Senator Michael McDowell couldn’t be reached for comment.

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