Category: Seanad News & Contributions

Seanad Eireann bye-election 2021

I am asking you for your No.1 or next highest preference in the forthcoming bye-election for a seat on the Industrial and Commercial Panel

Why vote for me?

A strong and experienced voice for the Irish diaspora

As you know I served in the last Seanad as a Taoiseach’s Nominee and kept immigration reform high on the agenda. Since the inauguration of President Joe Biden the whole dynamic in the United States has changed for the better and I will continue to advocate from within if elected to the Upper House.

Founding member of

We campaign for a Referendum to be held to ensure that Irish citizens in Northern Ireland and worldwide will have a vote in future Presidential Elections. On March 1st we held a very successful webinar/conference on Citizenship, Emigrants and Voting Rights to launch our Referendum campaign.

• Standing up for the hospitality industry

Along with my wife. Anne and my family we run a thriving restaurant business in Chicago employing over 350 people. As a businessman and employer, I have experienced at first-hand the serious problems facing employers and staff. I feel my experience in the Seanad and in the hospitality business both in the United States and previously in Galway, places me in a unique position to understand and speak on behalf of SMEs and the importance of Ireland as a global brand. Having handed over much of the day-to-day running of my restaurant business to my adult children. I am now residing in my family home in Galway. So many pubs and restaurants have suffered during the pandemic and we stand ready to answer the call when it comes to getting our country back up and running once again.

• SMEs – our innovators

Small business has been decimated by the pandemic and will continue to suffer until they can trade, develop and grow again when the economy reopens fully. SMEs are our largest employers, they are our innovators and they are the answer to getting our country back up and running again. I pledge to do all I can to ensure that the Government creates the environment to facilitate and support businesses in creating and developing enterprises.

Asking for your No.1

I ask for your NUMBER 1 vote in the Seanad bye-election and will be in contact with you personally in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, please feel free to call me with any questions about why a vote for me is the right choice.



Former Senator for the Diaspora will contest the election for a seat on the Industrial and Commercial Panel

Former Senator Billy Lawless has this morning confirmed that he intends to be an independent candidate in the forthcoming Seanad Bye-election to be held in April. He is seeking a nomination to run on the Industrial and Commercial Panel in the Upper House, following the vacancy caused by the resignation of Elisha McCallion in October 2020.

Speaking from his home in Galway, Mr. Lawless outlined his qualifications and experience for the role. “My many years’ experience as a successful businessman in the hospitality sector in Galway and my adopted city of Chicago signifies my appetite for hard work.

The former Taoiseach’s nominee said that “My business career in the US led to my role as an advocate for the Irish community there and I was honoured to be their voice in the Irish parliament from 2016 – 2020”.

He noted the current struggles for the hospitality sector in Ireland: “ I am uniquely placed to speak up for the sector, its thousands of owners and employees and its importance to Ireland as a global brand”.

In addition, he vowed to “continue to work tirelessly for the Irish abroad as I have done for decades. My network of contacts in Irish and US politics will ensure that issues important to our Diaspora will remain a high priority if I am elected to Seanad Éireann”

Good Friday alcohol ban to be lifted from all premises by 2018

Irish Times | June 13th, 2017

Good Friday alcohol ban: the Bill tabled by Independent Senator Billy Lawless would have removed the 90-year-old prohibition only for pubs and off-licences.

The Government is to ensure that the lifting of the ban on the sale of alcohol on Good Friday will apply to all premises rather than be restricted to pubs.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald had already announced that the Government would not oppose a Private Member’s Bill, tabled by the Independent Senator Billy Lawless earlier this year, that sought to remove the 90-year-old ban for pubs and off-licences.

Read full article.

Billy Lawless Speech from Launch of Cavan Diaspora Engagement Strategy 2017

Good morning everyone, Minister, Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Councillor Fergal Curtin, Councillors and my colleagues, Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Denis O’Donovan and Senator Diarmuid Wilson.

I would like to commend Cavan County Council for its diaspora engagement strategy which is being launched today. Cavan experienced some of the worst ravages of the famine and resulting emigration from the 1850s onwards. The Irish – and the Cavan diaspora in particular – are widespread, and found in every corner of the globe.

The Cavan diaspora engagement strategy,  seeks to build upon work that is already happening, but will focus the energy of the county’s residents on its successful diaspora members.

The strategy involves a multi-pronged approach of identifying the Cavan diaspora, engaging it and laying the groundwork for projects which will grow as a result of engagement with local and diaspora community members.

We live in an increasingly connected globalised society, but no matter where we go we are always called back, as Irish men and women, to the home place. We are a people rooted in our history, and in the land of our forefathers, and the green fields of Cavan are no different.

Your plan to engage with the Cavan diaspora is not only good policy but timely, and a testament to the outward looking nature of a county whose global links stretch far and wide.

The recent success of the Gathering, which brought so many towns and villages across the length and breadth of Ireland together to celebrate their diaspora, shows quite clearly that the Irish people want a modern and meaningful link to Irish people living abroad. But remember that so many people came home to Ireland for the Gathering, simply because they were invited. An invitation from the home place has such huge resonance for Irish people living overseas. That’s something to consider when developing any diaspora engagement Project.

I would encourage you all to continue thinking big,  but also connect with the marvellous work being undertaken on a national stage with diaspora engagement policy.

First established by Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan and continued on by Minister Joe McHugh, the Government’s commitment to the diaspora has grown from strength to strength.

Indeed, my own appointment as the first emigrant senator with the specific brief of representing the Irish living overseas, speaks volumes of the government continuing focus.

The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade is Chaired by your own, Brendan Smith, T.D., who is very supportive of the undocumented and was in Washington DC in December last, where he met with Senior Cabinet people, including Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Mangement and Budget, who’s own daughter attends Trinity College, Dublin, and other members of The Friends of Ireland Congressmen.

We must also remember though, that engagement is a two-way street and many of our diaspora members wishing to return to Cavan and Ireland in general, are faced with many hurdles and obstacles upon their return. They sometimes find it difficult to establish residency, and secure vehicle car insurance for example. Third level State fees is also a problem for the children returning Irish citizens, who have been away for some time.

We recently had a very successful Civic global Forum in Dublin Castle, which brought together diaspora organisations and representatives from across the world.

The groups discussed a variety of issues but chief among them was insuring a smoother return process for our fellow countrymen, who wish to make Ireland home  again.

I would encourage you in Cavan, to be ahead of the ball curve, and respond to your own diaspora members who wish to take up residence again in this great County.

Again, I would like to congratulate you for your great work and thank you for your continued commitment to diaspora issues.