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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Upper House

FF-FG voting pact steamrolls two-seat Seanad race as there's disappointment for Hazel Chu 

Fine Gael’s Maria Byrne and Fianna Fáil’s Gerry Horkan have both been elected.

FINE GAEL’S MARIA Byrne and Fianna Fáil’s Gerry Horkan have both been elected to the Seanad on the first count in two by-elections. 

Byrne received 118 votes out of the 205 votes cast and was elected to the Seanad’s Agricultural Panel, while Horkan received 114 votes from 203 votes cast to be elected to the Seanad’s Industrial and Commercial Panel.

Government parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael nominated only two candidates, one in each panel, and had a voting pact to support each other’s candidate.

The pact held up and both Byrne and Horkan were easily elected, returning both of them to the Seanad where they both previously served. 

Speaking after her victory, Byrne said: 

I’m delighted to be reelected having served in the Senate for the previous four years and certainly to build on my work. I was elected on the Agricultural Panel and while I’m from Limerick city I’ve worked to engage with many agricultural organisations.

In the vote for the Agriculture Panel, unionist and former unionist and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union Ian Marshall finished second ahead of Labour councillor Angela Feeney. 

In the Industrial and Commercial Panel, Independent Billy Lawless finished ahead of Labour’s Ciarán Ahern with Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu in fourth. 

Sinn Féin did not nominate any candidates but were supporting Marshall and Lawless.

Despite Green Party leader Eamon Ryan saying his party would be supporting the government candidates, Green Party chair Chu secured the requisite nominations to be included on the ballot and said she would be running as an independent

Speaking after his victory, Horkan said:

In my own contribution in the Seanad in the last term I think I had the best voting record and the best speaking record of all of my party colleagues. I was Vice Chair of the Finance Committee, the Joint Finance Committee and was working hard as finance spokesperson and covering public expenditure as well.

The electoral in the Seanad by-elections is the TDs and Senators in the Oireachtas and voting is by secret ballot. 

Speaking separately alongside their respective party candidates this afternoon, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar both said that the strong vote for the government candidates was an indication of the strength of the coalition. 

“I think overall the results demonstrate strong cohesion within government and across the government parties, that’s important,” the Taoiseach.


The Tánaiste said: “I think this government is going to go full term, the next national elections in Ireland are going to be the local and European elections in 2024. That’s my view and the result today I think strengthens that slightly, that there was very good cohesion from the government parties.”


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


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