The Green Party has a total of only 26 votes available for any candidate for the Seanad elections, which come from Oireachtas members and county councillors.
In normal circumstances, that would not give the party any hope of winning a seat. How-ever, with a transfer pact between Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrat TDs and councillors, both the Greens and PDs could hope for a seat each in the Seanad, with both boosting Fianna Fáil support.
The Government always has an advantage in Seanad elections because the Taoiseach nominates 11 of the 60 senators. Another six senators are elected from the panels of the National University of Ireland and Trinity College Dublin.
However, Fianna Fáil performed poorly in the local elections in 2004 and lost 100 council seats. Therefore, it’s likely to lose a number of seats in the Seanad.
Its opponents say its non-nominated senators may number only 18, although Fianna Fáil is confident that it can win 20 or more. To that end, it has chosen a small and very tight panel of candidates.
Yesterday it named its 12 Oireachtas candidates. Because of the complicated electoral system, they are considered to have a slightly better chance of winning Seanad seats than those candidates nominated by outside bodies.
They include eight politicians who lost their seats in the recent election. They are Cecilia Keaveney, John Carty, Ollie Wilkinson, Martin Brady, Donie Cassidy, Joe Callanan, Ivor Callely and Denis O’Donovan. The other four are Jennifer Murnane O’Connor from Carlow/Kilkenny; Mary Hoade from Galway West; Tom Fleming from Kerry South; and Diarmuid Wilson from Cavan-Monaghan.
It’s expected that defeated Cork South Central TD Dan Boyle will be the Greens’ leading candidate for the Seanad.
It’s not known if any PD candidate will stand in the elections. The party has already secured two seats out of the 11 Taoiseach’s nominees: Tom Parlon and Fiona O’Malley.
Mr Parlon is tipped to become the party’s new leader.
Elsewhere yesterday, independent senator David Norris launched his campaign for the three-seat University of Dublin panel. The Joycean scholar, conservationist and gay rights campaigner has been a senator for 20 years.
He said the Government had dithered with his bill for domestic partnership and civil registration, first introduced in 2003. He is also campaigning for a new defamation bill, for universal healthcare, and on human rights issues.