Independents to hold sway in new Seanad
Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30
Independents will hold the balance of power in the new Seanad.
As elections for the Upper House concluded, it emerged that Fine Gael has been replaced by Fianna Fáil as the largest party.
Fianna Fáil now has 14 senators, compared to 13 for Fine Gael.
Sinn Féin secured the election of seven of its candidates.
Labour returned five senators.
These include outgoing ministers Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Kevin Humphreys, who both lost their seats in the General Election.
The Green Party also secured a seat through Grace O'Sullivan.
But the prospect of the Seanad delaying legislation has heightened after the Independents secured nine seats.
These include Mary Alice Higgins, the daughter of President Michael D Higgins, former Tánaiste Michael McDowell, singer Frances Black and Gerard Craughwell.
Although Fianna Fáil secured the most seats, there is strong criticism privately of the party's strategy.
It is felt too many candidates were put forward by party headquarters and that this affected other candidates.
Among those who lost out yesterday was Mary Fitzpatrick, the former councillor.
Fine Gael secured a boost with the election of senator Paul Coghlan - who had initially conceded following the first count.