Fine Gael’s Catherine Noone secures nomination to run for Seanad

Senator gets nod despite ‘autism’ controversy, as ex-TDs seek election to Upper House

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone who became embroiled in controversy after comments she made about the Taoiseach, has secured a nomination to run again for the Upper House.

Ms Noone had described Leo Varadkar as “autistic” during her general election campaign run in Dublin Bay North but subsequently apologised. The Taoiseach said that while her comments were ignorant it was not proportionate for her to lose her job.

She confirmed on Sunday that she had secured the nomination from the Irish Country House and Restaurants Association to contest the election in what is a highly competitive race.

Candidates can run for election to one of five vocational panels by either getting a nomination from one of 110 civic society nominating organisations, or by getting the support of four Oireachtas members.

The postal election takes place between March 16th and 30th with nominations from civic society groups closing on February 24th and on March 2nd for Oireachtas nominations.

Ms Noone is among a growing number of Dáil candidates, former TDs and high-profile Ministers being considered as contestants for the 43 seats decided on by the outgoing Seanad, incoming Dáil and local authority councillors, a total electorate of about 1,200.

The Green Party will on Wednesday interview 13 potential Seanad candidates for three nominations including poll-topping Dublin City Cllr Hazel Chu, outgoing Senator Pippa Hackett, Louth Dáil candidate Cllr Mark Deary Mayo Dáil candidate Saoirse McHugh and Galway West candidate Cllr Pauline O’Reilly.

Party leader Eamon Ryan said the 15-member party executive, or ardchomhairle, will interview each of the 13 candidates on Wednesday for the three nominations.


The Labour Party has opened nominations for a week to pick four candidates and hopes that a majority will be female. Cllr Marie Sherlock has received a nomination from Siptu but has yet to be ratified by the party whose other candidates include Kildare South candidate Cllr Mark Wall and Dublin South Central candidate Cllr Rebecca Moynihan.

Other high-profile Fine Gael names being mentioned for the 43 seats decided by the Oireachtas and councillors are Minister of State Michael D’Arcy, former Dublin Bay South TD Kate O’Connell and former TD Áine Collins, who lost her seat in 2016.

Fianna Fáil wants high-profile former TDs Lisa Chambers and Fiona O’Loughlin to run, while former Cork South West TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony is also seeking a nomination; former TD Timmy Dooley who lost his Clare seat is understood to be considering whether to run.

Dublin South-Central candidate Senator Catherine Ardagh, who had been expected to win a Dáil seat, has been nominated again as has outgoing Senator Gerry Horkan. Former Cork East TD Kevin O’Keeffe is also seeking a nomination and outgoing Cathaoirleach Denis O’Donovan is also running.

Former Roscommon-Galway TD Eugene Murphy is seeking a nomination, while his general election running mate Orla Leyden is expected to receive a nomination after confirmation that her father, veteran Senator Terry Leydon, is standing down.

Outgoing unionist Senator Ian Marshall is among Independents seeking a nomination, as is the chairman of Naas racecourse, Dermot Cantillon, a former long-serving member of Horse Racing Ireland. Independent Senators Victor Boyhan and Brian Ó Domhnaill are also running.

The incoming taoiseach gets to select 11 Senators and the remaining six are determined by graduates of NUI universities and Trinity College Dublin.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is a parliamentary reporter with The Irish Times