I'm writing this post to confirm that I'm standing for re-election to Seanad Éireann, running again as an Independent on the Industrial & Commercial Panel.
You can see more about how the Seanad is elected here, but the pool of voters in my panel is made up of all local Councillors, TDs and Senators around the country. I'd really appreciate your support when the ballots are sent out.
It's been a huge privilege to serve as a Senator since 2016, when I became the first woman ever elected as an Independent from the Seanad's panel system. In the four years since, I've worked tirelessly on the issues I'm most passionate about, including mental health support, housing & homelessness, addiction services and broader issues of social justice and human rights. I've sought, in everything I've done, to stand up for the most vulnerable in our society and to provide a voice for the voiceless.
Along with raising important national issues, I've been an active legislator. I made the passage of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill a priority when elected. As an addiction counsellor and founder of the RISE Foundation, I've seen the devastating impact that alcohol harm has on families and communities right across Ireland. I worked closely with health experts, campaigners, community groups, the Minister and officials in the Department of Health, and with all opposition parties, to get this life-saving legislation over the line. I won key amendments on child protection and labelling, and resisted industry pressure to water it down.
I've also led on my own legislation, tabling the Occupied Territories Bill 2018. This landmark legislation would see Ireland become the first EU country to end trade in goods produced illegally on occupied territory, include the Palestinian West Bank. It's a big step for human rights, and I was honoured to be invited to present it in both the United Nations and the European Parliament. The Bill is one of a small few to be tabled and passed in full by the Seanad, agreed by the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee, and voted for by a strong majority in the Dáil. It now needs final approval by the new Dáil to become law, and you can see more details here.
As a Member of the Seanad Civil Engagement Group - Independents drawn from civil society backgrounds - I've sponsored a long list of Bills and amendments. I've worked on legislation on disability rights, rehabilitative justice, protecting vulnerable adults, vacant housing use, migrant rights and much more. Just last month we saw the first conviction for the offence of 'coercive control', something we worked hard to insert into the Domestic Violence Bill, ensuring better protection for those facing domestic violence.
I'm proud of my work as a Senator, and I want to return to the Oireachtas to continue fighting for what I'm most passionate about - social justice, equality, and an Ireland that respects the rights of all.
I'd be deeply grateful for your support.
Senator Frances Black