Fine Gael’s Paul Coghlan elected Seanad Leas Chathaoirleach

Fianna Fáil supports FG candidate in vote after SF and Labour nominees defeated

Fine Gael Senator Paul Coghlan has been voted as Leas Chathaoirleach (vice chairman) of the Seanad by 36 votes to 11. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

Fine Gael Senator Paul Coghlan has been voted as Leas Chathaoirleach (vice chairman) of the Seanad by 36 votes to 11. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

 

Fine Gael Senator Paul Coghlan has been voted as Leas Chathaoirleach (vice chairman) of the Seanad by 36 votes to 11. He won the vote with the support of Fianna Fáil and a number of Independents.

Mr Coghlan pledged to be “scrupulously fair and impartial” in the role.

The Killarney Senator, who was elected to the Upper House in 1997, is a businessman, whose previous careers including work as a banker and auctioneer.

Fine Gael Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer, who nominated him, said Mr Coghlan had huge experience and acumen as a businessman.

He referred to his “Lazarus-like” revival during the Seanad election when he had been expected to lose his seat. Mr Buttimer said his election was an indication of how transfer friendly Mr Coghlan was.

Mr Coghlan also worked as an undertaker for a number of years and party colleague Senator Paddy Burke quipped that he was “the last man to put a smile on a lot of faces”.

The Kerry Senator said he had been described as a “jack of all trades, but hopefully not a master of none”. Sinn Féin, Labour and the Independents each put forward a candidate for the position.

Sinn Féin’s Maire Devine, a psychiatric nurse and trade union official, and a South Dublin councillor since 2011, lost out by 39 votes to seven.

Second-term Labour Senator Denis Landy from Tipperary was defeated by 27 votes to seven. Fianna Fáil abstained.

The vote for Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell did not proceed once the vote for Mr Coghlan was taken.

The new Leas Chathaoirleach said he agreed with the comments of Independent Senator Michael McDowell that “any one of the candidates would have been fit to occupy the chair” and he looked forward to working with all parties and Independents.