Tuesday 27 September 2016

FG suffers blow as veteran senators lose out

Barry Lennon

Published 28/04/2016 | 02:30

Jim D'Arcy
Jim D'Arcy

Fine Gael suffered a significant blow in the Seanad elections with several of its sitting senators losing their seats.

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Senators Pat O'Neill, as well as former TDs James Bannon and Ray Butler, failed to secure enough support.

The Irish Independent previously revealed that Fine Gael councillors were to snub their outgoing senators amid claims they had shown a lack of presence.

Several other Fine Gael senators, including Jim D'Arcy and Michael Comiskey, also lost their seats.

However, there was some success for the party in the Labour panel following the election of former Fine Gael TDs Jerry Buttimer and Joe O'Reilly, as well as councillor Neale Richmond.

The Labour Party was also boosted by the election of acting minister Ged Nash, who lost his Louth Dáil seat in the General Election.

And his party colleague, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin is also expected to be elected.

Meanwhile, former Tánaiste Michael McDowell will make his return to politics after he was successful via the National University of Ireland (NUI) panel.

Afterwards, he said: "I'm privileged to have been elected to the Seanad by the NUI electors to whom I am grateful."

Rónán Mullen will also join Mr McDowell in the 25th Seanad after he was successfully re-elected. Alice Mary Higgins, daughter of President Michael D Higgins, won the third and final seat on the NUI panel.

Elsewhere, singer Frances Black looks set to enter political office via the Industrial and Commercial Vocational panel, benefiting from transfers from Sinn Féin's Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, who comfortably topped the poll.

Mr Mac Lochlainn's party colleague Máire Devine topped the poll on the Labour panel.

Fianna Fáil's Jennifer Murnane O'Connor and Robbie Gallagher were also elected, but overall it was a disappointing day for the party.

Sources have claimed too many candidates were in the field, resulting in the defeat of councillor Paul McAuliffe, who had been tipped to take a seat.

Meanwhile last night, student union president Lynn Ruane won the final seat on the Trinity panel, being elected on the fifteenth count and beating Sean Barrett. David Norris and Ms Bacik earlier took the first and second seats.

Former senator Averil Power was earlier eliminated after polling just over 300 votes fewer than her main rivals.

Irish Independent

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