Gerard Craughwell second Independent elected to Seanad
Sinn Féin continue strong performance with Fine Gael’s Maurice Cummins likely to lose out
Senator Gerard Craughwell has retained his seat on the Labour vocational panel. File photograph: Dave Meehan
Outgoing Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell has retained his seat on the Labour vocational panel, bringing to two the number of elected Independents.
As counting continued late on Tuesday night the current state of the parties was five seats each to Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, with two Independents, one Green Party Senator and one Labour Senator. There are 43 seats in all on the vocational panels.
In an upset for Fine Gael, leader of the previous Seanad Maurice Cummins, who enjoyed cross-party respect and popularity in the Upper House was expected to lose his seat.
Former Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer who lost his Cork North-Central Dáil seat, was expected to be elected as was Minister of State Ged Nash who lost his Louth Dáil seat.
Green Party candidate Grace O’Sullivan is the first Green Party candidate elected to the Seanad. All previous Green Senators were Taoiseach’s nominees.
The election of Independent Victor Boyhan, formerly of the Progressive Democrats, to the Seanad, has been described as the first election of an Independent in the Seanad’s history on a vocational panel.
Sinn Féin topped the poll for the third time in the Seanad vocational panel election after the election on the first count of South Dublin Councillor Máire Devine on the Labour panel.
She was followed on the second count by party colleague Paul Gavan from Limerick.
The party’s South Dublin Councillor Fintan Warfield topped the poll for the Cultural and Educational panel on Monday and was elected on the first count. Sinn Féin’s Mayo Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh topped the poll on the Agricultural panel and was elected on the first count with outgoing Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh retaining his seat on the second count.
The party has seven candidates on the five panels and expects to return seven Senators in an extremely disciplined vote management strategy organised by director of elections and party whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Fianna Fáil’s vote management resulted in the loss of a seat on the Agricultural panel despite having an extra 120 votes this time compared with 2011. Denis O’Donovan and Brian O Dómhnaill retained their seats and a new Senator, Cllr Paul Daly also won a seat for the party. But outgoing Co Leitrim Senator and broadcaster Paschal Mooney lost his seat.
Fine Gael kept its three seats but only outgoing Cathaoirleach and Castlebar Senator Paddy Burke retained his seat. Michael Comiskey from Co Leitrim and Co Kilkenny’s Pat O’Neill failed to keep their seats. Councillors Maria Byrne and Tim Lombard, both from Co Cork were elected in their stead.
After her poll topping election to the Labour panel Ms Devine thanked her Sinn Féin colleagues for their support and said she would be a “voice in the Oireachtas for nurses and a strong advocate for the mental health services.
“The recent pillaging of the mental health budget by the acting government demonstrates the need for a strong opposition to highlight the dangers such contempt for the health service can pose.”