Minister orders byelection to fill Seanad vacancy

Labour’s Jimmy Harte resigned from Upper House last week

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has ordered that a byelection be held to fill the Seanad seat vacated by Labour’s Jimmy Harte.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has ordered that a byelection be held to fill the Seanad seat vacated by Labour’s Jimmy Harte. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has ordered that a byelection be held to fill the Seanad seat vacated by Labour’s Jimmy Harte.

Mr Harte, who sat on the Industrial and Commercial Panel in the Upper House, resigned last week. The Donegal man suffered serious head injuries in a fall in Dublin in November 2013 and is still undergoing rehabilitative care.

Mr Kelly said the deadline for nominations for the election would be noon on October 15th. He said the Seanad returning officer would rule on nominations on October 23rd and that ballot papers would be issued on October 30th. The poll will close at 11am on November 13th.

The electorate for the byelection is limited to members of Dáil Eireann and Seanad Éireann, which means the Government parties have a majority that should allow them to retain the seat.

However, Independent candidate Gerard Craughwell was successful in a Seanad byelection last year after the Fine Gael candidate effectively withdrew from the race.

The episode caused much embarrassment for Taoiseach Enda Kenny when it emerged that his party’s candidate, John McNulty, had been added to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) in order to boost his credentials ahead of the election to the Cultural and Educational Panel.

After significant criticism over the move, Mr Kenny said the appointment of Mr McNulty to the board “was not his finest hour” and he undertook that it would never happen again.

It was too late at that stage to remove Mr McNulty from the ballot papers for the election and he requested that Oireachtas members not vote for him in the byelection.

Mr McNulty still polled 84 votes to Mr Craughwell’s 87 in the first round but he was ultimately defeated after the votes of the Sinn Féin candidate Catherine Seeley were distributed.