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Fine Gael councillor to replace Martin McAleese in the Seanad

Enda Kenny has nominated Hildegarde Naughton to replace Martin McAleese in the upper house.

Hildegarde Naughton
Hildegarde Naughton
Image: Fine Gael via Flickr

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has nominated Fine Gael councillor Hildegarde Naughton to fill the vacancy left by Martin McAleese in the Seanad.

Naughton, a primary school teacher, is a former mayor of Galway and has served as a member of the city’s council since 2009.

She replaces McAleese, who resigned following the publication of his report into the Magdalene Laundries earlier this year.

Naughton was involved in controversy two years ago when she denied prospective presidential candidate David Norris the opportunity to address Galway City Council in his bid to gain its nomination to run for the Áras.

She later claimed it was a mistake.

Commenting on his decision, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny said today that Naughton has been a “very capable and committed representative of the people of Galway”.

“She will be a very constructive and successful member of the Seanad and I wish her well in her new role,” he said.

Healy-Eames ousted

Kenny’s move will be perceived as an attempt to shore up his numbers in the upper house after Fine Gael removed the whip from senators Paul Bradford and Fildelma Healy-Eames over their vote against the abortion legislation earlier this week.

It will also be seen as a move against Healy-Eames who ran with Naughton in the Galway West constituency at the last general election.

Naughton will now be expected to run for Fine Gael in that constituency at the next general election.  Healy-Eames is unlikely to be selected for Fine Gael.

Fine Gael now has 19 members in the Seanad when combined with Labour’s 11 it gives it 30 of the 60 seats, meaning the government is reliant on the support of independents, some of whom are the Taoiseach’s nominees, in progressing future legislation.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael earlier today announced a reshuffle of its Seanad frontbench with Senator Martin Conway adding the justice portfolio to equality and disabilities, Senator Imelda Henry adds social protection to her spokespersonship on children.

Senator Catherine Noone is the party’s new spokesperson on european affairs, while former Olympian Eamonn Coghlan takes up the arts and heritage portfolio.

All other Fine Gael Senators retain their existing roles.

Read: ‘Disgusting and insensitive’: Fianna Fáil senators condemn… Fianna Fáil senators

Read: The Dáil has gone on holidays until September

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Hugh O'Connell

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