Mark Daly wins in Seanad chair vote

Senat or Mark Daly makes his first address as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad at the Dublin Convention Centre on Monday.

Simon BrouderKerryman

Kenmare-based Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has been elected as the new Cathaoirleach of the Seanad.

Senator Daly - who has been a senator since 2007, when he was elected as one of the youngest-ever members of the upper house - was elevated to the politically prestigious post following a vote on Monday.

Senator Daly was elected by a margin of 46 votes to six in a ballot at the Dublin Convention Centre, which is being used as a temporary Dáil chamber to allow for social distancing.

He was nominated for the position by Senator Lisa Chambers, with his nomination seconded by outgoing Cathaoirleach Senator Denis O'Donovan.

Ahead of the Seanad ballot, Daly secured the Fianna Fáil nomination after he won an internal vote among Fianna Fáil senators, beating Senator O'Donovan and Senator Diarmuid Wilson, who were also in contention for the post.

Senator Daly's election to the chair of the Seanad comes just two years after he was sacked as the party's deputy Seanad leader and spokesperson for foreign affairs following his participation in an unsanctioned launch for a Fianna Fáil election candidate in Northern Ireland.

The Kenmare Senator has always taken a major interest in the issue of a united Ireland. He has produced numerous reports on the matter, and on several occasions in recent years he has called on the Government of the day to make more preparations for an eventual border poll.

Highly successful in Seanad elections in 2016, the 47-year-old senator recorded the highest vote ever achieved by a senate candidate on the Administrative panel.

The Cathaoirleach - a position that comes with a €114,00 a year salary - chairs the Upper House and also represents Seanad Éireann at international meetings.

In the absence or temporary incapacity of the President of Ireland, the Cathaoirleach is a member of the Commission which exercises and performs the powers and functions conferred on the President.

The Cathaoirleach is also a member of the Council of State, which aids and counsels the President.

Senator Daly said it is a honour to be named Cathaoirleach of the 26th Seanad.

"We all bear a huge responsibility being in Seanad Eireann and representing the people of Ireland," he said.

"And that awesome responsibility is part of the idea of opening up the Senate to new ideas, new possibilities new opportunities," he said.