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Leader of Green Party in NI elected unopposed to Seanad

The leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland Mal O’Hara has won a seat in the Seanad, after opposition parties did not put forward a candidate in the by-election by the close of nominations on Friday.

The former Belfast councillor will take the seat vacated by the Sinn Féin senator Niall Ó Donnghaile who retired due to ill health.

He said last year that he had been unable to attend the Seanad on the advice of his doctor since the summer recess.

Mr O’Hara, who has been the North’s Green Party leader since 2022, was the agreed Coalition candidate.

He will now take up his seat in the Seanad on 8 April.

It is currently unclear why Sinn Féin, Labour or the Social Democrats did not nominate someone to fight for the seat in the by-election.

Mr O’Hara said he was looking forward to “joining a strong Green Party Oireachtas team and working with our colleagues in Government and cross-bench to achieve a socially and environmentally just society”.

He added: “It is important that a Northern Ireland voice remains in the Seanad.

I believe that with my background as an activist, my almost two decades in the community and voluntary sector, my time as a Belfast city councillor, as a harbour commissioner and board member of mental health charities, I can authentically advocate on behalf of all communities.”

Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment and Transport Eamon Ryan welcomed Mr O’Hara and said he would bring a “unique all-island perspective to the Seanad, as an extension of the inclusiveness that he has shown in his political and work careers to date”.

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