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Dublin: 11°C Monday 17 May 2021

FF and FG seek to share the spoils as two Senators will be elected today

The government parties have a voting pact to support each other’s candidate, as well as their own.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE RESULTS OF the Seanad by-election are set to be announced later today, confirming two more Senators in the upper house. 

The two members are being elected to the Seanad’s Agricultural Panel and the Industrial and Commercial Panel, meaning only current TDs and Senators are eligible to vote. 

The electorate in the by-elections is 218 TDs and Senators, with the votes taking place by proportional representation with a single transferrable vote.

A total of seven candidates are nominated across the two panels, with one candidate to be elected to each.

The TDs and Senators voting can therefore choose the candidates in order of their preference on each panel.

Ballot papers were issued to members two weeks ago and polls close at 11am today.

The counting begins immediately and will be livestreamed by the Oireachtas, which will also share results online. The results may be known before lunchtime. 

Who’s in the running for the two seats?  

Agricultural Panel

  • Maria Byrne (FG)
  • Angela Feeney (Lab)
  • Ian Marshall (Ind)

Industrial and Commercial Panel

  • Ciarán Ahern (Lab)
  • Hazel Chu (Green)
  • Gerry Horkan (FF)
  • Billy Lawless (Ind)

Government parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have nominated one candidate to each panel and the parties have a voting pact to support each other’s candidate, former senators Horkan (FF) and Byrne (FG)

Combined, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael representatives make up over half (110) of the electorate.

Green Party leader Minister Eamon Ryan had also stated that his party would be adhering to a government pact and supporting the FF and FG candidates but the Green Party’s chairperson and Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu announced that she would be running. 

Chu secured the requisite nominations to be included on the ballot and said she would be running as an independent

Candidates for the Seanad are not listed by their party affiliation in any event but are likely to draw their support from fellow party members. 

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Chu did not receive official backing from her party to run in the by-election but deputy leader and Cabinet minister Catherine Martin was among those who nominated her.  

The Labour Party has nominated a candidate on each panel, Kildare councillor Angela Feeney and employment solicitor and former Dublin South West general election candidate Ciarán Ahern. 

Sinn Féin has not nominated any candidates but its TDs and Senators have thrown their weight behind former independent senators Ian Marshall and Billy Lawless.

Marshall is a unionist and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union with Sinn Féin arguing that his nomination was “an opportunity for unionist inclusion” in the Seanad. 

The party’s decision to support Marshall and Lawless could be seen as a blow to the Labour candidates and Chu who were likely relying on votes from outside the government parties to be elected.  

The two Seanad elections were required following the resignations of Fine Gael’s Michael D’Arcy and Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion. 

D’Arcy resigned to take up a job as chief executive of the Irish Association of Investment Managers while McCallion resigned following a controversy over Covid-19 grant money received by her party’s office in Northern Ireland

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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