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Big names get the chop in Seanad elections

DONIE Cassidy and two former ministers have become big name casualties of the Seanad elections.

Despite being the leader of the last Seanad Mr Cassidy was eliminated from the vote late last night along with former junior ministers Martin Mansergh and Sean Connick.

The political careers of Brian Cowen's close confidant Geraldine Feeney, Mary Hanafin's brother John and ex-PD Fiona O'Malley also appear at an end.

So far Fianna Fail has managed to get just one Dublin candidate across the line to join its single TD from the capital, Brian Lenihan.

It isn't all bad news for Fianna Fail though as it is on course to win at least 10 seats -- although many of those will be taken by candidates that leader Micheal Martin had wanted to retire.

It now seems likely that just half of the 10 candidates favoured by the party hierarchy in a pre-election circular to party members will be in the next Seanad.


So far ex-Meath TD Thomas Byrne, Brian O Domhnaill from Donegal and North Dublin representative Darragh O'Brien have been elected.

In spite of Mr Martin's best efforts many of the so-called "old guard" have survived a cull.

Career senators Labhras O Murchu, Jim Walsh, Paschal Mooney and Terry Leyden will sit in what could be the last ever Seanad.

Donie Cassidy was the most high-profile member of the older regime but was hit by a series of controversies during the last Seanad.

At one stage it was alleged that the House was closed to allow him play golf on all-expenses paid trip to Turkey.

However, he insisted: "I gave up my whole bloody weekend in the name of Ireland."

Fine Gael is certain to be the biggest party in the Upper House even before Taoiseach Enda Kenny gets to make his 11 appointments next month.

Presidential hopeful David Norris topped the Trinity poll and Labour's Ivana Bacik looks likely to come second.

Senator Norris has already launched his presidential campaign but after his victory last night, he refused to speculate on his future ambitions.

"Tonight is just about the Senate. I wouldn't want to be discourteous to the voters who have put me in on the understanding that I am here to serve them."

As counting continued today, it appeared that there would be a tough battle for the third and final seat on the TCD panel with solicitor Tony Williams battling against economist Sean Barrett and GP Maurice Gueret.

Mr Williams was leading by almost 300 votes after the first count but the result will depend on transfers from a wide range of candidates.