Former Ulster farming president Ian Marshall to take seat in Seanad

Co. Armagh farmer Ian Marshall has been elected to the Irish Seanad in today’s by-election.

Markethill man Marshall was put forward for the seat on the Seanad’s agriculture panel by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

AgriLand was among the first to confirm that the former UFU leader was set to be nominated back in February.

Also Read: Former UFU president ‘honoured’ by Taoiseach’s Seanad nomination

Also in the running were Fine Gael members Mary Newman, a Tipperary vet; and Kerry county councillor Bobby O’Connell.

Speaking to this publication, Marshall said it was a “great honour and privilege” to even be considered for the position and added that he hoped to bring a “different perspective that could add to discussion and debate”.

Sinn Fein backing

It comes just two days after nationalist party Sinn Fein made the announcement to back Marshall. The move was seen as shocking by many as Marshall describes himself as a “unionist by birth”.

Speaking earlier this week, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said: “I have met with Ian on a number of occasions in recent weeks and I have been impressed by his views on Brexit and the potential impact Brexit will have on the island – north and south.

“I believe Ian will be a strong independent voice in the Seanad; providing an anti-Brexit unionist perspective, which is a welcome addition to the political discourse surrounding the issue in the Oireachtas.

Brexit affects people from all backgrounds and ways of life; nationalist, unionists and everyone in between.

“From his time as a farmer, as president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, and his current position at Queen’s University, Ian is particularly qualified and experienced to advocate on behalf of farmers and the agri-sector; which faces massive challenges in the time ahead.”