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Seanad candidate campaigns via the Web
Thursday, June 20 2002
by Andrew McLindon

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A Boston-based Dubliner running for the Seanad has said he will remain in the US if elected, but will use the Internet to represent the views of his electorate.

Declan Boland, who was born and bred in Dublin and now works as a management consultant for IBM in Boston, told ElectricNews.Net that if his campaign is successful he will personally attend as many sittings of the Seanad as possible, but will also maintain contact with his constituents and political peers from his Boston base via the Internet.

Boland is standing in the University of Dublin (Trinity) Panel, which has three Seanad seats and is voted upon by graduates of Trinity College, Dublin.

"If elected, I will make my Web site much more collaborative and ensure that I can use it learn about the positions and stances that my electors would like me to advance," he said.

Boland is currently doing the vast majority of his campaigning over the Internet as he looks to mobilise the Irish diaspora and garner support and feedback from Seanad voters. According to Boland, it has proven to be a successful, low-cost way of communicating with and contacting potential voters, and reaction to it has been positive so far.

"I have received messages of support from around the word via e-mail and am also getting a lot of questions on where I stand on issues such as the Middle East and the Irish language. My Web site has also been getting quite a number of hits," he remarked.

Boland said he was running for the Seanad so that the "non-resident community" could have some influence on how Ireland is run.

"This vast untapped resource, which has a huge amount of experience and talent, will prove invaluable in helping Ireland to protect its interests and play an increasingly important role in the new global economy," said his manifesto.

Boland said he plans on introducing legislation to make a diaspora representative in the Seanad a permanent position, and will look for the development of the technical infrastructure to allow non-residents to contribute more fully to the country's future.

In addition, he said one of his primary concerns was the establishment of a long-term plan to improve Ireland's transport and technology infrastructure. "The country's roads are totally inadequate and businesses are not going to want to base themselves in Ireland if that continues," he remarked. "The same applies to the telecoms network. There doesn't appear to be any broadband in Ireland whereas such technology is the norm in hi-tech countries like the US. Also, Ireland's e-government efforts are way behind those of other nations."

Boland is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. He worked for four years in Dublin as an independent consultant in the travel and tourism sector working mainly with multinationals looking to base themselves in Ireland. In 1984 he went to the US and returned to Ireland in 1992, but left again for America in 1996.

Elections for the Seanad's University Panel are by postal ballot and voting is to be concluded by 17 July. Boland rates his chances of being elected as "50/50." "It all depends whether people like the idea or not," he commented.

Read more about Dermot Boland on his Web site.



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