Unionist Ian Marshall seeks re-election to Seanad

Publication: BBC News Northern Ireland

Date: 16 February 2020

ORIGINAL ARTICLE


Ian Marshall told the BBC the Seanad is not a "cold-house" for unionism.

The former president of the Ulster Farmers' Union, Ian Marshall, has said he is seeking re-election to the Seanad (Irish senate).


Mr Marshall became the first unionist elected to the Republic's upper chamber in 2018 after he was nominated by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.


On Sunday, he said seeking re-election was a "fairly straight forward decision as it has been a good two years".


People can vote by postal ballot between 16 March and 30 March.


Speaking on the BBC Northern Ireland's Sunday Politics programme, Mr Marshall said it is "fair to say" he is the sole unionist voice in the Seanad.


"It's a very warm and friendly environment, it's not as some people would maybe portray it as a cold-house for unionism," he added.


"It's about building bridges, building relationships and working together across the island".


Sitting as an independent, the senator has been an opponent of Brexit and received support from Sinn Féin in his first election.


Asked if unionists should fear Sinn Féin's success in the recent Irish election he said: "I don't think they should."


He said "bread and butter issues" were at the centre of the election rather than a debate about a united Ireland.


"This was people who were very frustrated that they couldn't feel the benefits of a very successful economy and wanted change."