Clear-out of Seanad ‘old guard’ a blow to Enda Kenny

Several of Enda Kenny’s loyal senators lost their seats or were last night fighting for their survival.

Leader of the Seanad, Fine Gael’s Maurice Cummins, lost his seat on the Labour panel, while Pat O’Neill, Cait Keane and Michael Commiskey also were unsuccessful.

Fine Gael whip in the Seanad, the popular and well respected Paul Coghlan, was also in trouble late last night.

Such a clear out of the so-called “old guard” represents a further blow to Mr Kenny’s standing as leader in Fine Gael.

Party sources denied there was any strategic decision to abandon the incumbents in favour of young blood, saying the decision to abolish town councils and cut expenses for councillors lay behind the drop in support.

Veteran Trinity senator David Norris yesterday romped home to reclaim his seat in the Upper House. Labour senator and law professor Ivana Bacik, was also re-elected.

Renowned Economist Sean Barrett was u pipped by president of Trinity College students’ union Lynn Ruane.

On the NUI panel, Independents Ronan Mullen and former Tánaiste Michael McDowell were elected yesterday evening.

Mr Mullen, who is known for his conservative views, polled exceptionally strongly finishing top of the pile.

Mr McDowell, a successful Senior Counsel and former leader of the Progressive Democrats, will add substantially to the intellectual prowess of the Seanad, despite having been an abolitionist in the early years of the now defunct party.

Alice Mary Higgins, the daughter of President Michael D Higgins, secured the final NUI seat ahead of Padraigh O’Ceidigh.

Fianna Fáil stalwart Terry Leydon came back from the brink to claim the last seat on the Labour Panel on the 20th and final count.

Former Fine Gael TD for Cork South Central Jerry Buttimer and former Fine Gael TD for Cavan-Monaghan Joe O’Reilly also secured seats on the 11-seat panel, but former Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Colm Keaveney lost out.

Earlier Sinn Féin’s Padraig MacLochlainn, was elected after topping the poll on the Industrial and Commercial Panel.


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