Seanad election count under way

 

Counting begins today for the 43 seats for five vocational panels for the 24th Seanad, with counting for the six university panel seats starting tomorrow.

The poll for the five panels closed this morning, with the boxes being opened immediately afterwards in the Members’ Restaurant in Leinster House.

The first person to be elected to the Seanad today was Fine Gael's Deirdre Clune. Ms Clune, who lost her Dáil seat in Cork South Central in the general election, was elected to the Culture and Education panel shortly after 6pm  on the 10th count following the elimination of her party colleague Bill Tormey.

Thomas Byrne and Labhrás Ó Murchú from Fianna Fáil were also elected to the same panel on the 13th count and the Culture and Education panel was completed with the election of Labour's John Gilroy and Fine Gael's Mullins on the 14th count

The final results for the agricultural, labour and industrial and commercial panels are expected by tomorrow night, while the result for the administrative panel will be completed by Friday evening.

The counts can be followed live at seanadcount.ie, on Twitter at @oireachtasnews and on Facebook at facebook.com/OireachtasNews.

Counting for the three National University of Ireland and three Dublin University (TCD) seats will begin tomorrow morning. Votes are cast by post by registered graduates of both universities. A poll of 30,000 is expected for the NUI panel, while the TCD vote will be slightly lower.

The remaining 11 seats in the 60-seat Upper House are reserved for senators nominated by Taoiseach Enda Kenny. It is expected he will name the Taoiseach’s panel early next month.

These Seanad elections have attracted more attention than previously because of a number of controversies. As both Government parties have indicated they intend to hold a referendum to abolish the Upper House during the Coalition’s term of office, it could be the last Seanad election.

The campaign has also been marked by a row within Fianna Fáil over entitlement to run. Party leader Micheál Martin selected a panel of 10 preferred candidates to help the party rebuild its representative base. However, the majority of its outgoing Senators have refused to stand aside and are also running. With so many candidates, it is felt that Fianna Fáil may end up with less than the 10-12 seats it could expect to win with effective vote management.

The other contentious issue has been criticism of the register in both university panels, with candidates complaining that it is out of date, that graduates have been deregistered unknown to them and that the process for registering is cumbersome.

Seanad election: The mechanics

University panels Six seats

The 45 university candidates, who in theory have no party affiliation, have a registered graduate electorate of 134,000 between the NUI and Dublin University/Trinity College, though fewer than half of them vote.

Vocational panels 43 seats

The 122 candidates for the five vocational panels have 1,094 electors: 166 incoming TDs, 45 outgoing members of the last Seanad who are not TDs, and 883 members of county and city councils. Each has a vote on all five panels.

Candidates must show appropriate qualifications to run for the relevant panels: cultural and educational (five seats), administrative (seven), industrial/commercial (nine), agricultural (11) and labour (11).

Each panel is subdivided into candidates nominated by Oireachtas members and those nominated by outside bodies. The latter include the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, the Road Haulage Association, the National Association for Deaf People and the Institute of Bankers in Ireland. They may each nominate two candidates; but on the Labour panel Ictu has a say in seven and the Irish Conference of Professional and Service Associations in another seven.

Taoiseach’s nominees 11 seats

The remaining 11 seats are the Taoiseach’s nominees.