Tom Clonan’s election success rooted in impressive career and campaigning

Former Army officer’s research highlighted treatment of women in Defence Forces

Tom Clonan has won the Seanad byelection and will now join David Norris and Lynn Ruane as Senators for the University of Dublin constituency.

But who is the security analyst, academic and disabilities campaigner and what will be bring to the Seanad?

A former Army officer, the father of four ran as an Independent in the Seanad byelection.

Originally from Finglas, he studied in TCD before joining the Defence Forces in 1989 and later serving as a peacekeeper in Lebanon.


He witnessed a 1996 Israeli operation in that country which led to the deaths of many civilians.

Mr Clonan has said: “These experiences had a profound effect on me and inform my understanding of the value and power of Irish peace and neutrality.”

During the election campaign he argued for the need for “an Independent University Senator with an intimate, first-hand knowledge of conflict, reconciliation and peace-building”.

In 2000, Mr Clonan uncovered incidents of rape and sexual assault in the Defence Forces and published an account of what had transpired in a thesis he completed while he was studying at Dublin City University.

He had interviewed female members of the Defence Forces with 59 out of 60 had revealing that they had endured traumatic experiences including bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual assault and, in a number of cases, rape.

A lecturer at Technological University in Dublin, Mr Clonan has also worked as a journalist, writing as a security analyst for The Irish Times and, more recently, the

In recent weeks he has been writing on the war in Ukraine for the news website.

Mr Clonan has long been a campaigner for the rights of people with disabilities.

His son Eoghan has a rare neuromuscular condition called Pelizaeus Merzbacher Disease and Mr Clonan says he has campaigned for a “radical, rights based approach to disability.”

Mr Clonan previously missed out on a seat in the 2016 and 2020 Seanad elections.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times