New Fine Gael TD Gabrielle McFadden takes her Dáil seat

Welcome that byelection winners are women and that more women than men as MEPs

Newly elected Fine Gael TD Gabrielle McFadden has formally taken her seat in the Dáil. In a short ceremony before leaders’ questions Ms McFadden (47) was accompanied into the chamber by Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe.

To sustained applause the Longford-Westmeath TD, elected in a byelection following the death of her sister Nicky McFadden shook hands with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald.

Ms McFadden’s aunt Kay McFadden, husband Brian McClean and mother-in-law Joan McClean sat in the distinguished visitors’ gallery as she took her seat.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett said it was a very special day for Ms McFadden and her family. He recalled her late sister Nicky “who was loved and respected by all sides of this House but who was taken from us recently”.


The Taoiseach said “this has to be a day of nostalgia and emotion, but also one of great excitement in receiving the continued trust of the people of Longford-Westmeath to continue her mandate”.

He described Ms McFadden as a “person of exceptional qualities who will do a wonderful job of representation of all the people” of the constituency.

Mr Martin welcomed Ms McFadden on behalf of Fianna Fail and also recalled her late sister. “I do hope you will enjoy the experience here.”

Ms McDonald extended the “warmest of welcomes” and she had no doubt the byelection victory was a bittersweet experience and told Ms McFadden that her late sister was “genuinely regarded, respected and loved right across the Dáil”.

The Sinn Féin TD said it was “great to have another woman in this place and I look forward to working with you”.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said that having won a byelection herself she knew how daunting it was to come in mid-term. Speaking for the technical group she said: “I think it’s really good to see that the two byelections were won by two women. It looks like we’re going to have more women than men going to the European parliament, that we have lots of new women elected at local government level. That is a very significant change that is to be welcomed.”

Minister of State Joe Costello said that while it was a time of sadness it was also "a time of hope because of her own election, the fact that she is continuing the legacy so ably carried forward by her sister here". Speaking for the Labour party he said it was a "moment of great pride" for her family.

Ms McFadden was also welcomed by constituency colleagues James Bannon (Fine Gael) and Robert Troy (FF) and Dublin South Independent Peter Mathews.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times