Fine Gael Senator Gabrelle McFadden loses Seanad seat in poll

Lisa Chambers and FG councillor John McGahon set to be elected to Seanad

Ballot boxes are opened at Dublin Castle for the Seanad’s  vocational panel seats. Photograph:   Maxwells Dublin

Ballot boxes are opened at Dublin Castle for the Seanad’s vocational panel seats. Photograph: Maxwells Dublin


Fine Gael Senator Gabrelle McFadden has lost her Seanad seat when she was eliminated on the 10th count of the cultural and educational panel.

Ms McFadden’s transfers are expected to benefit her Fine Gael colleagues Minister of State and former TD Sean Kyne, Cllr John McGahon and former TD Tom Neville.

Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh remains in second place behind Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield, who topped the poll and is likely to hold his seat.

It remained unclear if Ms McHugh could get enough transfers when the next remaining candidates to be eliminated are from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

Former Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers and Fine Gael Louth councillor John McGahon look set to be elected to the Seanad on the Cultural and Educational panel as the counting continued on Monday night in Dublin Castle.

However, former Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach failed to be elected, and was excluded on the ninth count. He said in estimating support of voters “you should count the number of votes you’re promised and divide by two”.

Senator Warfield topped the poll with 151 votes, while Ms McHugh came in second with 114 votes.

After nine counts the order remained the same with Senator Warfield on 155 votes, Ms McHugh on 122, Mr McGahon on 112 and Ms Chambers on 105.

They were 20 candidates competing for five seats on the Cultural and Educational panel, the first of five vocational panels to be decided.

With eight Fianna Fáil and six Fine Gael candidates in the contest, Ms Chambers and Mr McGahon are expected to be elected from transfers.

Malcolm Byrne, who lost the Wexford seat he first won in November’s byelection, is still in contention one place behind Independent councillor Joe Conway.

Fine Gael’s Mary Newman Julian, a sister of former TD Kate O’Connell, was eliminated on the eighth count.

The electorate for the vocational panels is tiny at just 1,169 eligible voters – the 160 TDs in the new Dáil, the 60 outgoing Senators and 949 county and city councillors.

As the electorate is so small later counts could end up being fractions of votes, so each is multiplied by 1,000.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic the Seanad election is going ahead because constitutionally it cannot be postponed and a new Upper House elected.

As part of measures to adhere to social distancing for public health requirements candidates were asked not to attend the count, and the returning officer, Martin Groves, 10 count officials and the two Oireachtas social media personnel were the official staff present.

Two Fianna Fáil candidates, Mr Breathnach and Dublin City councillor Deirdre Conroy, and an agent for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Councillor Kate Feeney, attended.