SF proposes ex-hunger strike campaigner to chair Irish Dail

A monument to republican H-Block prisoners in Londonderry

A monument to republican H-Block prisoners in Londonderry

A man who formerly worked to get an IRA hunger striker elected has been proposed by Sinn Fein as the next ceann comhairle (speaker or chairman) of Dail Eireann.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin is the party’s longest serving representative in the Dail – the Republic’s equivalent of the House of Commons.

According to the website www.electionsireland.org , he was director of elections in the old “H-Block campaign” of 1981, when IRA man Kieran Doherty was elected to the Dail.

He is also listed as manager of Sinn Fein propaganda sheet An Phoblacht, up to 1985.

A decision on who will be granted the role will be made from about 10.30am on Thursday, March 10, when all nominees will be granted a few minutes to speak.

This will be followed by a secret ballot among members of the Dail.

In a statement on Friday, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said: “Sinn Féin will seek cross party support for Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin as Ceann Comhairle for the 32nd Dáil...

“A TD for two decades, Caoimhghín has gained respect from TD’s across all parties and independents. An experienced legislator Caoimhghín would make a very fair and impartial chair of Dáil proceedings.

“The Dáil is in need of an urgent step change in how it does business in a modern parliamentary democracy and Teachta Ó Caoláin is a candidate who could ably promote such reform.”

In a statement by way of response, Mr O Caolain said: “I am deeply honoured to be nominated by my party for the position of Ceann Comhairle, a position first held by proud republican Cathal Brugha.

“In the 32nd Dáil, it will be imperative to have an experienced legislator as chair as there are likely fractious days ahead following on the new and ever more competitive configuration of Dáil representation.

“Should I be elected to the position, I would undertake to uphold the highest standards of fairness and impartiality and the proud esteem in which the position is held.”