Broadcaster and medical consultant among candidates for university seats


SEANAD ELECTION:CONSULTANT ONCOLOGIST Prof John Crown and broadcaster Marc Coleman are among the candidates for the university seats in the upcoming Seanad elections.

The list of candidates was finalised yesterday as Taoiseach Brian Cowen appointed former Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien, who lost his seat in Dublin North, to the Seanad.

Mr O’Brien will fill the vacancy created by the election to the Dáil of Fine Gael’s Ciarán Cannon, who was a Taoiseach’s nominee in 2007.

The Seanad will meet on Tuesday to debate a Bill proposed by Independent Senator Feargal Quinn.

Explaining his appointment yesterday, Mr Cowen said: “I believe that Darragh O’Brien is going to be part of the big future of the party . . . I just wanted to give it to him and I’d give it to others but there was only one vacancy, that acknowledgement as he prepares for the Seanad elections over the next few weeks. It’s a practice that has been undertaken by successive taoisigh down the years when a vacancy arises, to fill it.”

The Taoiseach is entitled to make 11 nominees, while 43 Senators are elected by members of the incoming Dáil, members of the outgoing Seanad and members of county councils and city councils, groups know as “vocational panels”. Nominations for the six university seats, three each for the National University of Ireland (NUI) and Dublin University/ Trinity College, closed yesterday.

Among the candidates for the NUI seats are Prof Crown; solicitor and disability rights advocate Linda O’Shea Farren, and Helen Keogh, Dóchas chairwoman, chief executive of World Vision Ireland and former Progressive Democrats senator. Outgoing NUI Senators Rónán Mullen and Feargal Quinn are running again.

Outgoing Green Party Senator Niall Ó Brolcháin is contesting, while Eoin Ó Broin, who contested the general election as a Sinn Féin candidate in Dublin Mid West, is also running. NUI chancellor Dr Maurice Manning will be the returning officer.

Ballot papers will be issued to registered graduates on March 21st and the poll will close at 11am on April 27th. The election will be by postal ballot and the count will take place at the RDS in Dublin.

Among the candidates for the Dublin University/Trinity College seats are Coleman, an economist who presents a late-night programme on Newstalk 106-108FM; prominent medical personality Dr Maurice Guéret; TCD lecturer Seán Barrett; solicitor Tony Williams; Fiona O’Malley, a taoiseach’s nominee in 2007; defeated Dún Laoghaire Labour candidate Ivana Bacik and another outgoing Senator, David Norris.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has continued to face down some of his party’s outgoing Senators who want to return to the Seanad. Mr Martin has argued future party Senators need to have the potential to win Dáil seats.

The names being speculated about as future Fianna Fáil senators are deputy leader Mary Hanafin; Averil Power, a candidate in Dublin North East; Dublin Central candidate Mary Fitzpatrick; former Meath East TD Thomas Byrne and outgoing Senator Marc MacSharry.