About Tom Clonan

Senator Dr Tom Clonan has spent all his adult life fighting for others, from peacekeeping in the Middle East to fight sexual violence in the Defence Forces to tirelessly advocating for people with disabilities.

Along with being a journalist, lecturer and former army captain, Senator Clonan is a father of four adult children and a true family man who loves cooking on the barbecue, taking everyone on holiday to Italy or giving driving lessons, for better or worse.
Learn more about Tom’s journey to the Seanad here.
Read about Tom’s years at Trinity College Dublin and his time as a student.

Tom Clonan AvatarTom’s journey to the Seanad

In 1966, Tom was born, the youngest sibling to two older sisters and one older brother. A few years later, a younger sister followed him, completing the family of seven.

Tom attends Saint Kevin’s college, a Catholic secondary school for boys in Ballygall.

After finishing his Leaving Cert, Tom headed to Trinity College to pursue an Honours Degree in Education. He is the first one in his family to go to Trinity. He says his years at Trinity were some of the best years of his life.

In 1987, Tom leaves Trinity with an Honours Degree in Education and works as a primary school teacher for two years.


Tom-Clonan-Combats-LebComing from a family of Garda men, Tom decided to join the Irish Army in 1989 and was stationed at the Irish border in the early 90s.

In 1995, Tom is deployed to southern Lebanon as an officer commanding Irish troops under the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping mission. Tom describes his mission in South Lebanon as highly violent as he witnessed the 1996 Israeli Operation Grapes of Wrath against Hezbollah.

His next deployment was in Bosnia, where he was an OSCE election monitor during the Dayton Agreement in 1996.

After returning home to Ireland, Tom completes an MA in Communications at Dublin City University (DCU) and joins the Defence Forces Press Office.

Tom continues his studies, undertaking a PhD at DCU. This was the first equality audit of the Irish military, titled “The Status and Roles Assigned to Female Personnel in the Permanent Defence Forces”.

The findings revealed a catalogue of discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment and assault within the Irish Defence Forces against female soldiers. They led to an independent government inquiry, which resulted in an overhaul in the workplace policies of the DF and the implementation of recommendations arising from the inquiry to protect equality within the Irish Defence Forces.

Following whistleblower reprisals from senior officers, Tom retires from the Army.

Between the years 2000 and 2008, his four children are born.

Tom-Debating-StandingStarting in 2000, Tom began lecturing at the Technological University Dublin School of Media in the fields of Ethics, Journalism, Political Communication, Public Affairs and Research Methodology for twenty years until he was elected Senator.

Tom-Clonan-Respected-International-CommentatorTom starts working as a security analyst for the Irish Times from 2001 to 2016, reporting and commenting on various world events involving defence, intelligence, terrorism, and international relations.

Tom Debating Mansion House StandingAfter leaving The Irish Times, Tom began writing for the Irish online news platform, TheJournal.ie, in 2016.

Tom Clonan and David NorrisIn March 2022, Tom was elected as an Independent Senator for the Trinity College Dublin Panel.