Hazel Chu says numbers ‘aren’t there’ for her to be elected to Seanad

Dublin’s Lord Mayor says seeing people from minorities running helps ease divisions

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu who is  running as an Independent. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu who is running as an Independent. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Dublin’s Lord Mayor Hazel Chu has said “the numbers aren’t there” for her to win a seat in the Seanad by-election.

Ms Chu said she’s “disappointed” that Sinn Féin has decided to back Independent candidate Billy Lawless but also said it was “fair” given that she’s a member of the Green Party and had signalled she would vote with the Government if elected.

The Green Party has been engulfed in a row over its chairwoman’s Seanad run as an Independent candidate.

Party leader Eamon Ryan wanted his TDs and Senators to vote for Coalition candidates in the expectation that they would support a Green Party candidate should another vacancy arise during the lifetime of the Government.

Deputy leader Catherine Martin on the other hand signed Ms Chu’s nomination papers and argued against the parliamentary party holding a vote on a motion calling for Ms Chu to step aside as Green Party chairperson for the duration of the Seanad election campaign.

The vote went ahead last week and a majority of Green Party Oireachtas members supported the motion calling for Ms Chu to step aside but the parliamentary party does not have the power to force her to do this.

The result was communicated to the party’s Executive Council and sources said the matter is due to be discussed when it meets on Saturday.

Ms Chu declined to comment on the row.

Sinn Féin announced this week that it is asking its 41 TDs and Senators to vote for Billy Lawless, a former Senator and Galway native who ran a chain of bar restaurants in Chicago.

The party cited his work with the diaspora and support for extending the right to vote in presidential elections to Irish people abroad and in the North while also saying it would support Coalition candidates or those who intend to take the Government whip.

Ms Chu said she’s “grateful” that Sinn Féin gave her consideration but said their decision to back Mr Lawless is “fair” given that she was seen as a Government member.

On her chances of being elected she said “the numbers aren’t there and that’s fine” adding: “As much as I would have loved to win I also knew going into it that winning wasn’t the reason I was going for it.”

She said she knew the Seanad bid was going to be a “no hoper” when she decided to run but she’s still glad she did and she is not withdrawing from the race.

Ms Chu said she launched her campaign as “in 2021 there shouldn’t be no woman on the ballot” and also because there should be people from minorities running to help ease divisions in Irish society. 

She wished Mr Lawless and the other candidates Ciarán Ahern of Labour and Fianna Fáil’s Gerry Horkan well. 

Mr Horkan remains the favourite to take the seat in the Seanad’s Industrial and Commercial panel given a pact between his party and Fine Gael.

If discipline holds in the two main Coalition parties in the secret ballot Mr Horkan would only need a handful of votes from the Greens or others to get over the line.

The electorate in the Seanad by-election is limited to 218 TDs and Senators.