Thanks to everyone who supported my campaign for the National University of Ireland constituency in Seanad Éireann. Unfortunately, it was not to be, but I appreciate the efforts of everyone who voted for me or convinced others to do so.
Since leaving the NUI offices after close of nominations on 3 March, I knew this campaign was always going to be a long shot. Any race with 30 candidates leaves little chance for those who are not already established, and I was under no illusions about how my odds compared to others. I was competing with an incumbent, a former Tánaiste, and a host of others who have had considerably bigger public profiles and easier access to media than myself.
I stayed in the race anyway.
This campaign was always about more than “Luke Field, Seanad Candidate”. I ran on a platform of protecting higher education as a public good, an issue that I didn’t feel was being prioritised by our existing Oireachtas members. If I have managed to in any way influence the discourse away from the neoliberal, student debt model that threatens to take hold in Ireland, it will have been a worthwhile exercise.
Some felt that my campaign was too limited, focusing mainly as it did on higher education. I always rejected that analysis – we elected 158 generalists to Dáil Éireann in the General Election, we should be able to elect specialists to the Seanad.
Others pointed out that my public affiliation to the Labour Party would cost me votes. Undoubtedly it did, but I remain convinced that it was the right thing to do. It would have been dishonest to hide that affiliation from the electorate, and frankly, I am proud to believe in Labour values.
Still others argued that my public support for Repeal of the Eighth Amendment would do me no favours. Again, it undoubtedly did lower my stock in the eyes of some voters, but it was still the right thing to do. I’m not going to give up on publicly supporting that campaign until it succeeds.
At time of posting, counts are still ongoing, and two progressive women whom I hold in the highest respect and friendship are still in the running for the last seat. I hope we will see Alice-Mary Higgins or Laura Harmon elected by the end of proceedings.
My part in this Seanad Éireann election is over. My part in the fight for a more equal Ireland, for education as a public good, for vital reforms to make this a better country in which to live, is merely beginning another chapter.