All over bar the Seanad referendum

A FORMER leader of the Seanad brought a close to the election count by imploring newly elected members to fight for the continued retention of the Upper House.

Veteran former Fianna Fáil senator Donie Cassidy, who lost his seat this week, called on members of the 24th Seanad to challenge Government proposals to abolish the House.

Election counts for the 60-member Seanad finished yesterday evening with Coalition partners Fine Gael and Labour taking 27, or 53%, of the 49 seats that were voted on.

Opposition parties saw unexpected gains though, with Fianna Fáil clinching 14 seats, two more than it had been expecting, while Sinn Féin managed to win three seats.

While Fianna Fáil numbers in the upper house were halved since the 2007 Seanad election, party leader Micheál Martin managed to get five of his 10 preferred candidates elected despite earlier opposition from veteran party members.

Businessman and defeated senator Donie Cassidy spoke after the last count for the Administrative Panel, appealing to new members to oppose the planned abolition of the Seanad.

“I leave it in trust to the members of the 24th Seanad to fight for the retention of the upper house,” he said.

Mr Cassidy, who spent 29 years in the Dáil and Seanad before his defeat on Wednesday night, said he hoped plans that he had put forward to regularly broadcast proceedings in the Upper House would go ahead and would help persuade the public of the need to retain the Seanad.

The final count yesterday saw Fine Gael comfortably secure three seats in the Administrative Panel, with Labour and Fianna Fáil taking another two each.

However, the surprise elimination of Fianna Fáil Dublin councillor Mary Fitzpatrick slowed celebrations for the party as she had been a favourite of Mr Martin and was initially considered a strong contender for a seat, especially after a brief spell on the party’s frontbench during the election campaign.

Sinn Féin’s three wins also saw 22-year-old Kathryn Reilly become the youngest elected member of the Oireachtas.

The conclusion of the university panel votes saw another five independent candidates elected, as well as Labour’s Ivana Bacik

The remaining 11 seats in the Seanad will be decided next week or the week after when Taoiseach Enda Kenny announces his nominees.

There is speculation that a number of nominees will come from outside the party political fold.

It is expected that he will also appoint former Cork South Central TD and now Senator Deirdre Clune as leader of the Seanad, while it is thought that Pat Burke will be made chair of the Upper House.

The Government coalition parties have pledged to hold a referendum on the abolition of the Seanad.

When asked about the abolition of the Seanad yesterday, Mr Kenny said he had asked the Attorney General to begin working on legislation needed to put it before the people.

He said this could be the last term of the Seanad, but that it was a question for the people to answer.

Upper House: 49 elected

THESE are the 49 Seanad candidates elected this week. Taoiseach Enda Kenny will appoint candidates of his choice to the 11 remaining seats over the coming weeks:

Administrative panel: Mark Daly (FF), John Kelly (Lab), Diarmuid Wilson (FF), Michael D’Arcy (FG), Martin Conway (FG), Tom Sheahan (FG), Denis Landy (Lab).

Agriculture panel: James Heffernan (Lab), Paddy Burke (FG), Paul Bradford (FG), Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (SF), Brian Ó Domhnaill (FF), Pat O’Neill (FG), Michael Comiskey (FG), Jim Walsh (FF), Paschal Mooney (FF), Denis O’Donovan (FF), Susan O’Keeffe (Lab).

Labour panel: Maurice Cummins (FG), Fidelma Healy Eames (FG), Marie Moloney (Lab), David Cullinane (SF), Tony Mulcahy (FG), Cáit Keane (FG), Terry Brennan (FG), Darragh O’Brien (FF), Terry Leyden (FF), Ned O’Sullivan (FF), John Whelan (Lab).

Industrial & Commercial panel: Jimmy Harte (Lab), Averil Power (FF), Marc MacSharry (FF), Mary White (FF), Imelda Henry (FG), Paul Coghlan (FG), Colm Burke (FG), Catherine Noone (FG), Kathryn Reilly (SF).

Cultural & Educational panel: Deirdre Clune (FG), Labhrás Ó Murchú (FF), Thomas Byrne (FF), John Gilroy (Lab), Michael Mullins (FG).

National University of Ireland panel: Rónán Mullen (Ind), Feargal Quinn (Ind), John Crown (Ind).

University of Dublin (TCD) panel: David Norris (Ind), Ivana Bacik (Lab), Seán Barrett (Ind).

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