By Ray O’Hanlon
Long time immigration reform campaigner Ciaran Staunton is standing for a seat in the Irish Senate, or Seanad.
Staunton, a native of county Mayo who lives in New York, is a co-founder of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.
He has been nominated to stand by Sinn Féin though he will campaign as an independent.
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Party President Gerry Adams announced that the party had nominated Mr. Staunton as an independent candidate in the Seanad elections “as a voice for the diaspora.”
“Ciaran Staunton is a Mayo man who has lived in the United States since the 1980s. He has been a long-time leader on immigration issues. In 1990, he was involved in the campaign which saw the introduction of the Morrison Visa program that opened the door to thousands of Irish citizens being able to legally enter the USA,” said Adams in a statement.
Continued Adams: “In 2005, Ciaran co-founded the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. The ILIR is the leading Irish American organization campaigning for immigration reform and the resolution of the status of the 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants living in the USA.
“Ciaran has met the most senior political leaders in the USA as part of this work. He has lobbied the White House, the Congress and Senate. He has also been a frequent visitor to the Dáil where he has briefed the Irish government and Oireachtas members.”
Adams said that Staunton has been a vocal and effective champion for Irish immigrants for almost thirty years.
There are approximately seventy million citizens across the globe who claim Irish roots. In the last ten years, almost half a million more have left these shores for all parts of the globe. Every townland and parish the length and breadth of Ireland has a son or daughter in the diaspora.
“Sinn Féin believes that much more must be done to develop and strengthen our relationship with the diaspora. This objective can be enhanced with a strong dedicated voice in the Oireachtas, someone who will fight for the rights of the undocumented in the USA, for votes for Irish citizens living abroad, for improved connectedness between the island of Ireland and our diaspora, and for a united Ireland.
“I believe that Ciaran Staunton has the experience and commitment to be that voice.”
Adams concluded: “In April 2012, Ciaran and Orlaith’s 12-year-old son Rory tragically died as a result of Sepsis.
“The family established the Rory Staunton Foundation to raise awareness and improve diagnosis around this issue.
“In 2013, ‘Rory’s Regulations’ were adopted in New York State. These regulations require all hospitals to adopt best practices for the early identification and treatment of sepsis. This month, the Stauntons secured an important victory when (U.S.) the House and Senate Appropriations committees supported the allocation of funding in the U.S. budget of awareness programs.”
While it is possible for Staunton to stand for the Seanad though he be resident in the U.S., under current Irish voting law he would not be able to vote for himself from New York.