Fine Gael transfers help Labour win four Seanad seats
Disability campaigner one of nine Independents FG will rely on to pass legislation
Labour’s Kevin Humphries, who lost his Dublin Bay South Dáil seat in the general election, has been elected to the Seanad. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins.
Labour’s four candidates on the Seanad vocational panels have all been elected with the help of Fine Gael transfers.
Four Independent Senators were also elected to the vocational panels including chief executive of the Disability Federation of Ireland John Dolan, who won a seat on the Administrative panel which was the last to be completed.
Fine Gael has 13 senators, up one despite losing Dáil and council seats in 2014, but the nine Independents elected, four to the vocational panels and five on the university panels, will wield significant influence for the passage of minority government legislation.
Sinn Féin has more than doubled its representation with poll topping results on four of the five panels and seven seats, an increase of four.
Fianna Fáil has 14 seats, up one on their pre-election standing, but they could have won at least two more with better vote management and based on more than doubling the number of TDs and a significant increase in councillors in the 2014 local elections. The Green Party won a seat as a result of poor Fianna Fáil voting strategy.
Mr Dolan was elected with half a quota because of complicated “inside” and “outside” nomination rules, and because of poor Fianna Fáil strategy.
He said there were 600,000 people, 13 per cent of the population, with disabilities in the State and the way public services were administered had to change.
“I am convinced that we would be doing a lot better if we came at things from a different perspective. We can’t wait until the economy is ticketyboo,” he said.
An informal voting arrangement between councillors resulted in Fine Gael surpluses going to Labour. Three of the party’s Ministers of State who lost their Dáil seats have been elected to the Seanad, including Kevin Humphreys.
Minister of State and former Louth TD Ged Nash was elected to the Labour panel and outgoing Senator Denis Landy retained his seat, moving from the Administrative to the Agricultural panel.
Minister of State Aodháin Ó Riordáin was elected to the Industrial and Commercial panel and Seanad Labour group leader Ivana Bacik retained her Trinity panel seat.
Fine Gael Minister of State Paudie Coffey, who lost his Dáil seat in Waterford, was unsuccessful in his attempt to win a Seanad seat and party colleague Eamonn Coghlan lost his seat. Roscommon councillor Maura Hopkins was elected and Clare Senator Martin Conway retained his seat.
Mr Humphreys said they now had a job to do rebuilding the Labour Party. With five Seanad seats the party would be a “strong, articulate voice for progressive left-wing policies and will build a progressive alliance”, he said.
Fianna Fáil’s Mark Daly topped the poll on the Administrative panel with 184 votes, followed by Sinn Féin’s Niall Ó Donnghaile on 150 votes and both were elected on the first count.
Mr Ó Donnghaile is also contesting the Northern Ireland Assembly elections. He said he would be a “strong voice for Irish citizens in the North of Ireland” and would put forward a bill on extending voting rights to the North for presidential elections.
The final seat on the panel went to Fianna Fáil Senator Diarmuid Wilson who won out against his colleague Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick.