Taoiseach appoints eleven Seanad members


Former TDs Ivor Callely, Dan Boyle and Fiona O'Malley are among the Taoiseach's 11 nominees to the Seanad announced today.

Mr Ahern has also appointed former RTÉ producer and Sunday Independentjournalist Eoghan Harris to a seat in the upper house of the Oireachtas.

The selection of candidates from the Fianna Fáil ranks is singularly lacking in imagination and appears to be driven by a desire to repay political favours, or debts
Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar

Forty-nine Senators have already been elected from the vocational and university panels, and Mr Ahern's 11 completes the complement of 60 and provides the Government parties with 33 Senators and a comfortable working majority.

Mr Callely, a former junior minister and TD for Dublin North Central, lost his Dáil seat in the May election. The former four-seat constituency, now a three-seater due to boundary changes, returned only one seat for Fianna Fáil in Sean Haughey.

Fiona O'Malley was a Progressive Democrat TD for Dún Laoghaire until she too lost her Dáil seat.

Dan Boyle, the Green Party's finance spokesman, was a surprise seat loss for his party in Cork South Central. He remained on as a member of the party's negotiating team in the talks for the programme for government between the Greens and Fianna Fáil.

Former Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin North East Martin Brady is also among the Taoiseach's nominees.

The full list of nominees is: Dan Boyle (Green Party); Martin Brady (FF); Ivor Callely (FF); Galway-based councillor Ciarán Cannon (PD); Dún Laoghaire councillor Maria Corrigan (FF); Wicklow councillor Deirdre de Burca (Green Party); former TD John Ellis (FF); journalist Eoghan Harris; Wexford-based councillor and solicitor Lisa McDonald (FF); Donegal-based councillor Brian Ó'Domhnaill (FF) and former TD Fiona O'Malley (PD).

The Taoiseach also appointed Donie Cassidy (FF) as leader of the Seanad.

Senator Deirdre de Burca said she and her colleague Dan Boyle would play their part in bringing about "fundamental reform" of the Seanad so that it can become "a more relevant and democratic institution of Government".

"I also hope to use my position to promote important issues such as gender equality, special education, health and environmental protection."

Senator Dan Boyle said he and his party colleague hoped through their involvement in the 23rd Seanad we can work to bring about the necessary reforms that will make it more vital and encourage the public to identify more easily with the Seanad, its work, and its Senators.

Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley welcomed the appointments. He said the appointments meant that the party is now in the historic position of being able to fully pursue its policies at every level of political decision-making on the island.

Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar said the Taoiseach had wasted his last opportunity "to appoint genuinely independent voices to the Seanad".

"I would like to congratulate the new Senators appointed by the Taoiseach and wish them well in their new duties. However, the selection of candidates from the Fianna Fáil ranks is singularly lacking in imagination and appears to be driven by a desire to repay political favours, or debts," he said.

In theory, the Seanad does not recognise party affiliations but tends to reflect the relative strengths of the parties in the Dáil because of how members are elected.

The main business of the Seanad is the revision of legislation sent to it by the Dáil. The Seanad may initiate and revise legislation but under the Constitution it may not initiate financial legislation and can only make recommendations but not amendments to such Bills.

Seanad Éireann cannot delay indefinitely legislation already passed by the Dáil and cannot initiate Bills to amend the Constitution.