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Counting for Seanad’s Labour panel underway, as agricultural seats are completed

Fianna Fáil’s vote management brings home four candidates – but only one of them is backed by Micheál Martin.

The Seanad election count continues in Leinster House.
The Seanad election count continues in Leinster House.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated, 21.19

COUNTING IS UNDERWAY to decide the 11-seat Labour panel in the Seanad.

Fine Gael has seen two triumphs so far, with Maurice Cummins and Fidelma Healy Eames taking the first two seats in that panel. Sinn Féin councillor David Cullinane was also elected with a surplus of 1,747 votes.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil won four of the 11 seats available in the Seanad’s agricultural panel, in an excellent display of vote management – but only one of the three candidates championed by party leader Micheál Martin is among them. The party saw Paschal Mooney, Brian Ó Domhnaill, Denis O Donovan and Jim Walsh all gain seats.

Fine Gael’s Paul Bradford, Pat O’Neill and Michael Comiskey joined Paddy Burke on the agricultural panel, who had won election last night, while Sinn Féin’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh of Galway West retained the seat won by Pearse Doherty four years ago. Labour’s James Heffernan was joined by party mate Susan O’Keeffe.

Ó Clochartaigh’s success is all the more historic for the party, however, in that Doherty was only elected by virtue of a voting pact between Labour and Sinn Féin – while Ó Clochartaigh’s seat has come entirely from the support of Sinn Féin’s swelled ranks in council chambers and the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil will retain the four seats won in 2007 – but while the party’s share of the vote has held up well in spite of its depleted electorate, and while its voters have transferred loyally to other FF candidates, only one of the three candidates backed by the party leader Micheál Martin win a seat.

Martin-backed incumbent Brían Ó Domhnaill won the support of 53 Fianna Fáil voters, as did Wexford veteran Jim Walsh – and the former’s surplus votes, ensuring that fellow FF candidate Denis O’Donovan, 55, retained his lead over Fine Gael’s John Sheahan.

But the support won by more longstanding Senators like Walsh and Paschal Mooney, 63, meant that there was not enough support for Martin’s other picks, former junior minister Seán Connick, 47 – who, like Walsh, lives in New Ross – and outgoing senator James Carroll, 27.

The completion of the count will mean that with 16 seats filled, Fine Gael will have won six, Fianna Fáil six, Labour three and Sinn Féin one. The next panel to be counted will be the Labour Panel, where 21 candidates are in the running for 11 seats.

Sorting of votes in the two University constituencies has begun, meanwhile, with a first count from the University of Dublin constituency due this evening.

With a much larger electorate, the National University of Ireland constituency is unlikely to announce the results of a first count until tomorrow – though tallies indicate that the incumbent Rónán Mullen set to top the poll, while Feargal Quinn had also performed strongly and would retain his seat.

Additional reporting by Jennifer Wade

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Gavan Reilly

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