Seanad vote off to good start for Martin as 'chosen man' elected
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin got off to a good start in the Seanad election count last night with a win for one of his controversial chosen candidates.
Defeated Fine Gael TD Deirdre Clune became the first member of the new Seanad to be elected and former Fianna Fail TD Thomas Byrne also comfortably won a seat.
Mr Byrne was on the party leader's list of 10 Seanad candidates he wanted elected.
But there were ominous signs for Mr Martin as only half of the Fianna Fail representatives were backing his strategy of voting for candidates he has endorsed with the rest opting for rebel senators.
And the Labour Party also took a seat with general election candidate John Gilroy topping the poll on the Cultural and Educational Panel.
Fianna Fail held its two seats on the panel with Labhras O Murchu being re-elected easily with an impressive vote -- but Mr Byrne took out another party veteran, Anne Ormonde.
The last seat was a battle between two Fine Gael councillors from the west of Ireland, Michael Mullins from Galway and John McCartin from Leitrim.
Although Mr McCartin narrowed the gap to just four votes at one point in the count, Mr Mullins stretched ahead to take the seat in the finish.
Fine Gael general election candidate Dr Bill Tormey performed poorly and did not come into contention, despite having a higher profile than his party colleagues.
Fianna Fail won two seats, despite the party only having enough representatives to give it less than one-and-a-half seats.
Mr O Murchu, in particular, was regarded as attracting a considerable number of votes from outside of the party.
Fianna Fail was expected to win two seats and there were no slip-ups for Mr Martin's strategy of selecting younger candidates who he sees as future general election runners.
Mr Byrne was the only Fianna Fail candidate on Mr Martin's contentious list.
However, out of the 261 Fianna Fail TDs, senators and councillors, only about half appeared to have gone with Mr Martin's direction to vote for his list.
And when Ms Ormonde was eliminated, three-quarters of her votes went to fellow candidates who were not on the list at all.
The count continued last night with the Agricultural Panel count getting under way.
The rest of the week is expected to pan out into a series of battles between Mr Martin's chosen candidates and the Fianna Fail rebels.