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seanad elections

Independents to meet on running Seanad candidates

Independent TDs, senators, MEPs and councillors will attend a meeting to see if non-party candidates can win Seanad seats.

UP TO 144 of the country’s non-party elected politicians will meet in Athlone today to discuss a potential electoral pact that would see them elect independent candidates in the forthcoming Seanad elections.

The meeting – organised by independent MEP Marian Harkin – comes just under a fortnight before the close of nominations for the Seanad, in which votes are given only to current Seanad members, TDs, MEPs and ekected members of local authorities.

As a result of the relatively closed electorate, no independent candidate has ever been elected through the Seanad’s panel systems; instead, they have only ever won seats through direct appointments by the Taoiseach, who has 11 seats, or through the two elections held by the University of Dublin and the National University of Ireland.

Markin said it was “anomalous” that no independent candidate had ever won election through the traditional panel system when there were as many as 144 independent votes to be cast in the coming election.

Harkin has been assisted in organising the meeting by outgoing Senator Joe O’Toole, who is not seeking to retain the seat he successfully won through the National University of Ireland system, and independent TDs Catherine Murphy and Finian McGrath.

Senators Rónán Mullen and Feargal Quinn, the other senators elected by graduates of the NUI, have both submitted nominations to retain their seats, while outgoing Green Party senator Níall Ó Brolcháin – who would struggle to win election through the panel system, with the Green Party having only 13 councillors and three current senators – is also seeking to keep a seat through the NUI system.

Former PD and current independent senator Fiona O’Malley, meanwhile, is to contest the election for the three seats elected by the graduates of the University of Dublin (Trinity College), as are independent incumbent David Norris and outgoing Labour senator Ivana Bacik, who was elected as an independent candidate in 2007.

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