Gerard Craughwell: I'm ecstatic and deeply grateful to be elected to Senate
SEANAD by-election winner Gerard Craughwell said he is “ecstatic” to be elected to the Senate.
The former TUI president said he originally ran for election to highlight the difficulties an ordinary citizen would have trying to get elected to the Seanad.
However, he was “deeply grateful” to the members of the Oireachtas who signed his nomination papers.
He commiserated with the two other candidates – John McNulty, who pulled out of the race following the controversy about his selection and Sinn Fein candidate Catherine Seeley.
“It is not easy to put yourself forward for election, it is not easy to put yourself in front of the public glare,” he said.
Referring to the McNulty affair, Mr Craughwell said: “What has gone on has gone on and we are all aware of it. What we have to do now is make damn sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Mr Craughwell received 98 votes, Mr McNulty received 85 and Ms Seeley received 22.
Despite being a former British solider, Mr Craughwell received 10 second preference votes from the Sinn Fein candidate’s transfers.
He said it was “very brave” for Sinn Fein members to vote for him given his affiliation to the British Army. “I think they are to be commended for it,” he added.
“I spoke to Sinn Fein during the campaign and it’s no secret I was member of the Royal Irish Rangers and Sinn Fein were quite prepared to put that behind them and I am quite prepared to put behind me any issues I may or may not have had with them.”
Mr Craughwell, who is a former Fine Gael member, ruled out rejoining the paper and insisted he would remain an independent member of the Senead.
He said he will not be “whipped by any party” and will consider each vote as it arises.
The former teaching union president said his main focus will be education.
He said it was “regrettable” how he was elected but he is very proud to take his seat.
“Standing here today, the 16-year-old boy who joined the army never thought he would be standing on this plinth facing the media,” he said.
“If I start thinking about it I will get emotional because it is without a doubt the greatest honour that could ever happen.”