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Fine Gael's John McNulty has lost the Seanad by-election - and here's who beat him

Former TUI president Gerard Craughwell is the country’s newest senator.

Updated 1pm

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INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE GERARD Craughwell has won the controversial Seanad by-election, beating Fine Gael’s reluctant candidate John McNulty.

The result means the government has now lost its majority in the Seanad, with 29 members to 31 opposition party and independent senators.

McNulty had been widely tipped to win, despite asking the electorate not to vote for him following the political row about his appointment to a state board.

Craughwell, a former president of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), said that he intends to be full independent and not subject to any party whip in the upper house.

The first count tally which was announced just after 12.10pm today saw Craughwell with a narrow lead of just three votes ahead of McNulty by 87 votes to 84.

The third candidate, Sinn Féin’s Catherine Seeley, received 22 votes and was eliminated after the first count.

In the second count, Craughwell received 98 votes to McNulty’s 85 and was deemed elected.

There were a total of 205 valid ballots sorted in the count centre in Leinster House.

A total of 207 ballots were received – which means 16 TDs and Senators didn’t vote -however two were rejected over issues around incomplete and missing declarations of identity.

The by-election has been mired in controversy in recent weeks after it emerged that McNulty was appointed to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) six days before he was confirmed as the Fine Gael candidate for the Seanad.

He subsequently resigned from the board of IMMA and asked not be considered by the electorate of TDs and Senators. Taoiseach Enda Kenny was forced to apologise for the debacle, blaming the state board appointment on an unnamed Fine Gael official.

The controversy led the government to announce changes to the way state board appointments are made with ministers pledging that there would be a more transparent process.

Additional reporting by Christine Bohan

Read: 24 candidates, but only one who isn’t asking for votes … Happy by-election day

Read: John McNulty goes back to running his shop as Enda says he didn’t vote for him

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Hugh O'Connell

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