Sources in both the outgoing coalition parties have confirmed to the Irish Examiner that the talks were aimed at winning support from either side for candidates running in different panels. Labour want Fine Gael votes to support the election of former ministers Aodhán Ó Ríordáin in the Industrial and Commercial panel and Kevin Humphreys in the Administrative panel.
Fine Gael are hunting for votes to help elect Senator Jim D’Arcy, Jim Finucane, Mary Howard, Seosamh Ó Laoi, and Linda O’Shea Farren, candidates nominated by outside bodies in the Cultural and Education panel. A senior Fine Gael source said: “Some talks were held with Labour just before Easter, but it’s too early to tell. They need us for two panels, while we need them for one.”
Both parties suffered huge losses at the last local elections, reducing the number of their councillors who can vote in the Seanad elections. This, along with the general election result, means both parties need support outside of their own bases. While Labour has a strong chance of getting former minister Ged Nash and outgoing Senator Denis Landy elected to the Labour and Agriculture panels, it is seeking outside support for Mr Ó Ríordáin and Mr Humphreys.
Sinn Féin confirmed it is lobbying Independents and smaller parties to help get seven candidates elected. Director of elections David Cullinane said no formal deal had taken place, but outside support was being sought for candidates running on the Labour and Agriculture panels.
The Seanad election sees 43 of 60 seats elected to vocational panels by the country’s 949 county councillors, the 158 members of the incoming Dáil and members of the outgoing Seanad.