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Female Fáil: Seanad elections see FF women back in Leinster House

Mary White and Averil Power are set to take seats in the Industrial & Commercial Panel, breaking the all-male presence in the FF parliamentary party.

Averil Power (right) will be one of at least two Fianna Fáil women to win election to the Seanad.
Averil Power (right) will be one of at least two Fianna Fáil women to win election to the Seanad.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE FIRST COUNT in the fourth of the Seanad’s vocational panels indicates that Fianna Fáil will elect at least two women to Leinster House, ensuring some female presence among the party’s parliamentary ranks.

Presidential hopeful Mary White and former ministerial aide Averil Power have topped the poll in the Industrial & Commercial Panel, all but guaranteeing their election from the nine-seat panel – and ending party fears that it would have no female elected parliamentarians in the wake of February’s general election.

That election saw the party’s Dáil ranks shrunk from 76 to just 20 – with no female candidates managing to secure election from the public.

In another boost to the party and its leader Micheál Martin, Power – who was one of Martin’s ten preferred candidates for the Seanad elections – is based in Dublin, meaning that the party now has a third representative from the capital alongside former finance minister Brian Lenihan and re-elected senator Darragh O’Brien.

Though four Fianna Fáil candidates have performed strongly and sit among the top nine candidates after the first ballot, accumulated transfers from lower-performing Fine Gael candidates may see only three of them win out.

If the party support is only enough for three candidates, outgoing senator Marc Mac Sharry will retain his seat at the expense of Margaret Conlon, a defeated former TD from Cavan-Monaghan.

In doing so, Mac Sharry will become the second of the three Martin-backed candidates to make it home; Cllr Kenneth O’Flynn, son of former FF TD Noel, is the one to miss out.

The Fine Gael vote has been split significantly between its 15-candidate ticket, so it is difficult to predict with confidence which of its candidates will win the four seats that its vote should entitle it to.

Labour’s Jimmy Harte will also win election, while the final seat will be fought between his partymate Joe Leddin and Sinn Féin’s Kathryn Reilly – who came third in the poll, but who may find herself being surpassed by transfers from other parties.

Outgoing senator Dan Boyle will not be among the nine victors; his 19 votes leave him well short of viability, though the Green Party will be buoyed by the fact that he won the support of 19 voters when only six of the 1,067 voters are themselves Green Party members.

Previously: Fine Gael continues Seanad success, while Norris takes first University seat >

A bluffer’s guide to the Seanad election count >

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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