Seanad elections: Traveller candidate narrowly loses out on election

All six university Senators retain seats following final count in Trinity College constituency

All six university Senators have been re-elected to the Seanad following the final count in the Trinity College constituency.

Lynn Ruane was elected on the eighth count with 4,072 votes winning out over fourth-placed former Ireland rugby international Hugo MacNeill, who had 2,961 votes.

On the vocational panels, Eileen Flynn, who is a Traveller, narrowly lost out. In a tight four-way contest on the Labour panel, she missed out and the seats were taken by Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan, Green Party councillor Pauline O’Reilly and Labour councillor Marie Sherlock. Ms Flynn would have been the first Traveller woman in the Oireachtas.

Counting concluded shortly before 11pm on Wednesday night and resumes at 9am on Thursday.


After the final count in the Labour panel Fianna Fáil has 10 seats, Fine Gael eight and Sinn Féin three.

Labour, the Green Party and Independents have two seats each.

A total of 27 seats have now been filled on the vocational panels with 16 seats to be decided on the two remaining panels – Industrial and Commercial, and Administrative.

Earlier, Senators David Norris and Ivana Bacik retained their seats in the Trinity constituency.

The pair joined Senator Rónán Mullen and Michael McDowell, who were re-elected for the National University of Ireland (NUI) constituency.

Mr Mullen topped the poll and was elected on the first count, the first time a Senator has been elected on the first count since 1989.

Then third-placed NUI candidate Senator Alice-Mary Higgins was re-elected late on Wednesday night with transfers from former USI president Laura Harmon to end up with 9,778 votes compared with 6,219 votes for former Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger.

Mr Norris topped the poll in the Trinity constituency and was re-elected on the fifth count. His surplus secured the re-election of Ms Bacik. Ms Ruane was elected in third place.

Mr McDowell was elected on the ninth count, after a first count showing just 600 votes off the 9,530 quota.

Mr Mullen, a long-time anti-abortion campaigner, was re-elected to the NUI panel with 9,642 votes.

Four Fianna Fáil Senators were elected to the vocational panels including former TDs Shane Cassells and Pat Casey, while Senators Ned O’Sullivan and Robbie Gallagher held their seats.

Earlier, outgoing Sinn Féin Senator Maire Devine was eliminated.

Six former TDs will return to the Oireachtas led by Ministers of State Michael D’Arcy and Seán Kyne. Also elected were former Fianna Fáil TDs Eugene Murphy, Niall Blaney, Lisa Chambers and Malcolm Byrne. Sinn Féin’s former Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan also secured a seat.

Green Party Senator Pippa Hackett retained her seat and Labour had their first victory for Cllr Annie Hoey. Fine Gael Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer topped the poll and was re-elected to the Labour panel followed by the party’s Waterford councillor John Cummins.

Vocational panels

Outgoing Senators, TDs and local and city county councillors make up the 1,691 voters who get to elect the new Upper House and have a vote on each of the five vocational panels –Agriculture (which has 11 seats), Culture and Education (5), Labour (11), Industrial and Commercial (9) and the Administrative panel (7).

The university panels elect three Senators each on the National University of Ireland and Trinity College panels.

The coronavirus “cocooning” rules resulted in registrar Dr Attracta Halpin taking over as returning officer for NUI Chancellor Maurice Manning who was forced to stay at home because he is over 70.

Some 38,000 NUI graduates returned ballots, a higher turnout than in 2016 but the number of graduates rose by 12,000 to 112,206.

The Trinity turnout was an estimated 16,000 from a total electorate of 64,585.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times