Four former senators among candidates for Seanad byelections

Unionist Ian Marshall and diaspora advocate Billy Lawless submit nomination papers

Four former senators are now seeking to get back to the Upper House in the two Seanad byelections and are among six candidates so far nominated ahead of the March 23rd deadline.

Nomination papers, which require the signature of nine TDs and/or Senators, were lodged yesterday for former president of the Ulster Farmers Union Ian Marshall and Billy Lawless, a publican and restaurateur normally based in Chicago but home in Galway since last May.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have agreed an election voting pact for each party to stand just one candidate in the hope of electing both - former Dublin senator Gerry Horkan (FF) to the Industrial and Commercial panel and former Limerick senator Maria Byrne (FG) to the Agricultural panel.

The Labour Party has nominated Kildare councillor Angela Feeney, head of culinary arts programmes at Technological University Dublin, and employment lawyer and legal adviser to Justice for Magdalenes Research Ciarán Ahern, from Rathfarnham, Dublin.



The vacancies arose following the resignations of Fine Gael’s Michael D’Arcy, who left to become chief executive of the Irish Association of Investment Managers, and Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion, who stood down after it emerged the former MP had received a £10,000 Covid-19 relief grant, which she was ineligible for.

Sinn Féin is supporting Mr Marshall on the Agricultural panel and has yet to make a decision on whether to contest the Industrial panel. The Social Democrats are also supporting Mr Marshall and has not decided on who to support for the second panel. People Before Profit TDs have not yet taken a position on who they will support.

The Green Party said a decision has not yet been taken on its approach. The party leadership is understood not to be in favour of running a candidate but party chairwoman and Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Hazel Chu is said to be keen to run. The Greens have 16 TDs and Senators.

The elections are by postal vote and run from April 7th to April 21st with an electorate of 218 TDs and Senators. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have 108 TDs and Senators and, if the pact holds, Ms Byrne and Mr Horkan are set to be re-elected.

There has been some discontent over the selection process and if party discipline breaks down in the secret ballot Mr Marshall is seen as having a good chance.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times