Hi, I’m Ber Grogan. I’m a daughter, a sister, a social justice community activist, a parkrunner, a friend, a veggie, a yogi, a dog lover and a believer in the kindness of people. I have been volunteering, participating in civic engagement and working in the not-for-profit sector for over a decade and more recently have got involved in national policy work. I want to make the world a better place. Because that sounds so daunting, I start by trying to make my community a better place and hope that ripple effects are created. I love to surround myself with like-minded people who get actively involved in bringing about positive change. I’m a work-in-progress and I’m always learning.
I’m the type of person who likes to get things done. So, I became co-ordinator of some Christmas volunteer events, bringing people together to make and deliver food hampers to people and families who need a little support around Christmas time; organising a ‘Secret Santa’ for children experiencing homelessness; collecting baby food and nappies for the Capuchin Day Centre after Br Kevin reported a huge increase of families visiting the centre. I have a wealth of experience working in not-for-profits: with young homeless people, an inner city youth group, with people leaving prison and in community development activities. Since December 2015 I have worked in the Houses of the Oireachtas and have gained invaluable insight into the legislative process. I have also actively worked on legislation, amendments, parliamentary questions, topical issues, policy development and cross-party collaboration.
A couple of years ago, I got involved with the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) after seeing how much amazing work is done by a small number of dedicated volunteers. I’m one of the hundreds of thousands of people from Ireland who travelled to England for an abortion. Prior to getting involved in ARC I felt like I was carrying this shameful secret and only spoke about abortion in an abstract way. Around this time the momentum to Repeal the 8th Amendment was growing and I was delighted when a local constituency group was set up. I became co-convenor of that group, Dublin North West Repeal/Together For Yes, and we went on to run a brilliant campaign and secured a 73.1% Yes vote in the area. May 26th was one of the happiest days of my life so far. I felt like a weight had finally lifted and that the vast majority of the electorate stood beside us.
I truly believe that a better Ireland is possible and that there is some amazing work happening in the Seanad at the moment. The Civic Engagement Group has been inspirational in its achievements. Because of my decade long experience in the not-for-profit sector and my interest and experience in national politics I am running for election to the Seanad NUI Panel as an independent candidate.
If elected to the Seanad, I will focus on key issues around housing, homelessness, education, equality issues, animal welfare and climate change (see policy information on my website www.bergrogan.ie for more info). There are so many important issues that I would love to work on and drive forward including greater supports for women and children fleeing domestic violence, mental health supports, addressing the feminisation of poverty and homelessness and support for family carers and persons with disabilities. Of course, legislating for abortion is also now for a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas and I believe that we need strong repealers in there to ensure that the legislation reflects best practice for the pregnant people who need it.
My First Class Honours Degree is from the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown meaning that, as it stands, I can’t vote for myself in a Seanad election. I’m keen to see the important work of Seanad reform continue and to make the Upper House of Parliament a more inclusive and representative part of our government.
I promise to always be tolerant, kind and empathetic and would love to represent similarly-minded, progressive, inclusive NUI-graduate Seanad voters.