Senator Jillian van Turnhout, TV3 Tonight Show ‘Politician of the Year 2015’

TV3 Tonight Show ‘Politician of the Year 2015’

Embargoed Statement from Senator Jillian van Turnhout

EMBARGO, 00.01, 18 December 2015, Dublin:  Senator Jillian van Turnhout, Leader of the Independent Group (Taoiseach Nominees) in the Seanad has been announced as TV3’s ‘Tonight’ Show 2015 ‘Politician of the Year’.  The award was adjudicated by a judging panel of 4 leading political correspondents: Sarah Mc Inerney of The Sunday Times; Harry Mc Gee of The Irish Times; Gavin Reilly of Today FM and Niamh Lyons of The Times Ireland.  The panel stated that Senator van Turnhout was being recognised for ‘demonstrating how to bring advocacy issues forward and make a real impact. They noted that her focus on advocacy for children and principled issues have made real and significant changes.’

Speaking after the announcement, Senator van Turnhout said that she was very honoured to accept the award.  She thanked both the ‘Tonight’ show and the judging panel.  “I have worked for many years as a volunteer and CEO in children’s and youth organisations, to try to address continuing and emerging discrimination and to improve the lives of all young people in Ireland.  When Taoiseach Enda Kenny appointed me as an Independent to the Seanad, I saw it as an excellent opportunity to effect change from within the political system.  I am therefore delighted to receive this award in recognition of that.” said the Senator.

“I am especially proud of my work to further children’s rights including: the ban on smoking in cars with children; getting the common law defence of reasonable chastisement (physical punishment) of children repealed and standing up to the drinks industry in an effort to protect children from alcohol related harm.” added Senator van Turnhout, “My membership of the Health and Children Committee has also allowed me to advocate on other important issues like the importance of consent, choice and control in ‘End of Life’ care and neuro-rehabilitation services following stroke and acquired brain injury.”

“I dedicate this award to my late Dad Michael Hassett, who, along with my Mum Jenny, inspired my sense of fairness and social justice.  I would like to thank my assistant and researcher, Amy McArdle, for her support and hard work. I would also like to acknowledge the many organisations and individuals who have supported my efforts in the Seanad with their excellent advocacy and analysis, and with their trust” concluded Senator van Turnhout.


Available for comment:  Senator van Turnhout can be contacted directly on 087 2333784 or via her office at 01 6183375

Note to editors:

Jillian van Turnhout was appointed as an Independent Senator to Seanad Éireann in 2011.  She is the former Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, former Chief Commissioner and current volunteer with the Irish Girl Guides, Chairperson of Early Childhood Ireland, Vice Chairperson of European Movement Ireland and Chairperson of Children in Hospital Ireland.

Over the past 20 years Jillian has undertaken a number of community and voluntary sector roles.  She was a Board member of Women for Election; President of the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI); member and Vice President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC); Secretary General of the ECB-BEC (predecessor to the European Youth Forum) and a Council member of Gaisce – The President’s Award.  She was also a member of the National Children’s Advisory Council and sat on the Management Committee of the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF). Jillian started her career in the private sector, where she worked for more than 10 years.