Seanad success: FF does better than expected
Fianna Fail today revised upwards its total of expected Seanad seats to 14 after a number of candidates became Senators against the odds.
Failed election candidate Averil Power, presidential hopeful Mary White and returning Senator Marc MacSharry were expected to join colleague former TD Darragh O’Brien who won a seat.
Ms Power and Ms White are welcome female additions to Michael Martin’s exclusively male Dail contingent. Ms Power and Mr O’Brien are both Dublin based – previously Brian Lenihan was the sole representative from the capital.
Oncologist John Crown, who has pledged to donate his Seanad salary to cancer research, was elected by NUI graduates this afternoon. Senator David Norris was elected after a recount following a mix-up in first preference votes. Green party chairman Dan Boyle was eliminated on the 11th count for the Industrial and Commercial panel.
A total of 31 seats out of 60 have now been filled in the Seanad elections. Fine Gael has 11 seats, Fianna Fail has nine, Labour has five and Sinn Fein has two. Three of the five vocational panels have now been decided.
Fianna Fail’s leader in the Seanad, Donie Cassidy, a long standing member, last night lost his seat, but overall Fianna Fail has been bolstered by a better than expected performance.
Fianna Fail senators Jim Walsh, Paschal Mooney and Denis O'Donovan fended off the challenges of Mr Martin's candidates, former minister Sean Connick and James Carroll.
Sinn Fein had a good day with Trevor O Clochartaigh and David Cullinane being elected. And the Labour Party appears set to increase its Seanad representation, too, with Susan O'Keeffe among those elected yesterday.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny's trusted sidekick is set to become chairman of the Seanad.
Fine Gael Senator Paddy Burke was comfortably re-elected to the Senate.
Mr Burke is from Mr Kenny's home base of Castlebar and was vice-chairman of the last Seanad.
The veteran senator didn't confirm the widespread expectation that he would become the Cathaoirleach of the new Seanad. "That's a matter for the Seanad," he said.
The Seanad university panels were poised to return all sitting senators in contention but there will be two new names after the retirement of Joe O'Toole and the election to the Dail of Shane Ross.
The NUI count showed Independent Senator Ronan Mullen easily retaining his seat. Independent Senator Feargal Quinn is also tipped to hold on. The final outcome will be known tomorrow evening.