Parties brace for ‘carnage’ in scramble for Seanad nominations

Glut of former TDs put names forward for Upper House election as deadline looms

Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers and Timmy Dooley are believed to be in the running for a Seanad nomination while Fine Gael’s Seán Kyne (left) was picked by Leo Varadkar. Photographs: Dara Mac Dónaill, Nick Bradshaw and Jason Forde

Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers and Timmy Dooley are believed to be in the running for a Seanad nomination while Fine Gael’s Seán Kyne (left) was picked by Leo Varadkar. Photographs: Dara Mac Dónaill, Nick Bradshaw and Jason Forde

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Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are braced for a week of what one party source described as “carnage” as final decisions on candidates for the Seanad election are made because too many former TDs are seeking nominations.

The first deadline is noon on Monday for nominations from outside civic society bodies for the five vocational panels that elect 43 of the Seanad’s 60 members.

As of Sunday, 35 candidates successfully sought nominations from those organisations.

If not in receipt of an “outside” nomination from such bodies, candidates can receive an “inside” nomination from the party. This requires the signature of four TDs and/or Senators. The deadline for these nominations is Monday, March 2nd.

Sixteen Fianna Fáil TDs lost their seats and the names mentioned so far for priority as Seanad candidates include former Mayo TD Lisa Chambers and former Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin. Former Clare TD Timmy Dooley, another surprise loser, is also mentioned as a candidate.

Twelve Fine Gael TDs lost their seats, including Minister of State Seán Kyne who the Taoiseach nominated to the Seanad for its remaining few weeks to succeed Frankie Feighan who won a Dáil seat.

Sources said there would be division within parties as the leadership attempts to select candidates with the best possible chance of winning a Dáil seat in the future.

Fine Gael is focused on securing seats where it has no Dáil representation including Dublin North-West where Noel Rock lost his seat, Carlow, where Pat Deering lost his seat but has an outside Seanad nomination, Waterford, and Tipperary. One of the party’s Dáil candidates in Tipperary, Mary Newman Julian, has secured a nomination from the Veterinary Council of Ireland. She is a sister of Kate O’Connell who lost her Dublin Bay South seat and has been mentioned in dispatches as a potential candidate. But such is the competition that most candidates will only know next weekend if they are on the ticket.

‘Outside nomination’

Anyone can seek an “outside” nomination from a range of 110 associations including farming, industrial, cultural, trade union and educational organisations. Those successful in securing such a nomination ahead of Monday’s deadline include Fianna Fáil councillor Aengus O’Rourke, son of former minister Mary O’Rourke, and the party’s former Cork South-West TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony who lost her seat in the general election.

Co Roscommon councillor Órla Leyden is also nominated following the retirement of her father Senator Terry Leyden after 18 years in the Upper House.

Former Roscommon TD Eugene Murphy is also seeking a nomination from the party after he lost his seat and blamed the two-candidate strategy. Cllr Leyden ran on the ticket with him and both lost out.

Dún Laoghaire councillor, Fine Gael’s Barry Ward, has secured a nomination from retailers’ group RGData, which previously nominated retiring Senator Paul Coghlan, standing down after 23 years.

A number of outgoing Senators and Dáil candidates successfully re-nominated include Fine Gael’s Maria Byrne, Martin Conway and Tim Lombard as well as Independent Senators Frances Black, Victor Boyhan, Brian Ó Domhnaill and unionist Ian Marshall.

Fianna Fáil cathaoirleach Denis O’Donovan, and party Senators Gerry Horkan and Robbie Gallagher have been nominated, as has Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield.

Former Fianna Fáil TDs from previous Dáils who also got nominations are Kerry’s Thomas McEllistrim, Niall Blaney of Donegal and former Fine Gael TD Áine Collins.

The total electorate for the 43 vocational seats is 1,200, comprising outgoing Senators, incoming TDs and local authority councillors.

Six further Senators are chosen by NUI and Trinity College graduates and 11 are selected by the incoming taoiseach.



Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill, Gortahork, Co Donegal (Ind)
Senator Denis O’Donovan, Schull, Co Cork (FF)
Senator Victor Boyhan, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin (Ind)
Senator Tim Lombard, Minane Bridge, Co Cork (FG)
Senator Ian Marshall, Mowhan, Co Armagh, (Ind)
Senator Paul Daly, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath (FF)
Former TD Thomas McEllistrim, Tralee, Co Kerry (FF)
Former TD Niall Blaney, Letterkenny, Co Donegal (FF)


Former TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, Bandon, Co Cork (FF)
Éamonn Walsh, Dublin (Fianna Fáil)
Cllr Shane Curley, Loughrea, Co Galway (FF)
Senator Fintan Warfield, Inchicore, Dublin (SF)


Cllr Órla Leyden, Roscommon (FF)
Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, Athlone, Co Westmeath (FF)
Former senator John Hanafin, Thurles, Co Tipperary (FF)
Sarah Walshe, Newbridge, Co Kildare (Ind)
Senator Robbie Gallagher, Silverstream, Co Monaghan (FF)
Senator Ned O’Sullivan, Listowel, Co Kerry (FF)
Senator Gerard Craughwell, Leopardstown, Dublin (Ind)


Senator Aidan Davitt, Mullingar, Co Westmeath (FF)
Former councillor Joe Corr, Dublin (Ind)
Cllr Pat Haynes, Loughrea, Co Galway ( Ind)
Senator Catherine Noone, Dublin (FG)
Former TD Áine Collins, Mallow, Co Cork (FG)
Cllr Garrett Keller, Ballincollig, Co Cork (FG)
Cllr Barry Ward, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin (FG)
Michael Anthony Vaughan, Lahinch, Co Clare
Cllr Tom MacSharry, Sligo, (FF)
Senator Frances Black, Dublin (Ind)
Arthur Griffin, Thurles, Co Tipperary (FF)


Senator Martin Conway, Ennistymon, Co Clare (FG)
Senator Diarmuid Wilson, Cavan (FF)
Senator Mark Daly, Kenmare, Co Kerry (FF)
Cllr Mick Cahill, Colehill, Co Longford (FF)
Senator John Dolan, Sutton, Co Dublin (Ind)



Abbas Ali O’Shea, director of AFA (educational) Consultancy
Jennifer Butler, folklorist UCC lecturer
Ruth Coppinger, former Solidarity TD
Eoin Delahunty, operations manager
Karen Devine, DCU lecturer in government
Eva Elizabeth Dowling, Green Party councillor
Garbhán Downey, publisher
Mick Finn, Cork City councillor (Ind)
Peter Finnegan, PR consultant, member of NUI Maynooth governing body
Laura Harmon, leadership co-ordinator National Women’s Council of Ireland
Michelle Healy, member UCC governing body
Rory Hearne, assistant professor social policy, NUI Maynooth
Alice Mary Higgins, Senator (Ind)
Marcus Matthews, managing director Regional Internet Service Providers Association
Michael McDowell, Senator, senior counsel (Ind)
Rónán Mullen, Senator (Ind)
Brendan Price, chief executive Irish Seal Sanctuary
Keith Scanlon, electrical and electronic engineer,
Anne Staunton Barrett, retailer


Abbas Ali O’Shea, director AFA (educational) Consultancy
Ivana Bacik, Labour Senator
Derek John Byrne, academic, media professional
Tom Clonan, academic, journalist, disability campaigner
Hugo MacNeill, consultant, non-profit sector
David Norris, Senator (Ind)
Joseph O’Gorman, company director, administrator Central Societies Committee, TCD
William Priestley, Green Party county councillor
Lynn Ruane, Senator (Ind)
Keith Scanlon, electrical and electronic engineer