Denis O’Donovan is FF nominee for Seanad Cathaoirleach job

Micheál Martin chooses new Senator Catherine Ardagh as House leader

Fianna Fáil Senator Denis O’Donovan is likely to be the new Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, replacing outgoing Fine Gael Senator Paddy Burke.

The Cork Senator and outgoing Leas Cathaoirleach was voted as the nominee for the position by his Fianna Fáil colleagues, beating Senator Terry Leyden. The vote distribution was not disclosed.

With 14 Senators in the Upper House, Fianna Fáil is in prime position for the Cathaoirleach position. It’s expected that Fine Gael Senators will not stand in the way of the Fianna Fáil nominee.

New Senator Catherine Ardagh has been appointed Seanad leader. She will be Fianna Fáil's group leader and, as the party is the largest in the Upper House, she will be Seanad leader.

Fianna Fáil has appointed Senator Diarmuid Wilson as whip.

The decisions were made in a meeting on Wednesday of Fianna Fáil Senators.

According to Fianna Fáil members, party leader Micheál Martin told the meeting he had selected Ms Ardagh to be Seanad leader as she was an experienced councillor and a Dáil candidate.

Ms Ardagh came close to winning a Dáil seat in Dublin South-Central, but was outvoted by AAA-PBP candidate Bríd Smith.

A daughter of former TD Seán Ardagh, party colleagues described Senator Ardagh as a popular choice, despite her being a new Senator. Six of the party’s 14 outgoing Senators were returned to the Seanad.

Mr Martin gave the party Senators a choice for Cathaoirleach nominee between Mr O’Donovan and Mr Leyden. The meeting was adjourned for a time before the vote because a number of Senators were missing.

A separate meeting of Independent Senators is underway organised by Independent Senator David Norris, father of the House.

Nine Independent Senators have been elected to the Seanad, the largest number in the House’s history.

The meeting is set to discuss the role of the Independents and to focus on reform.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is a parliamentary reporter with The Irish Times