Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh may contest Seanad seat

Green Party MEP candidate, Saoirse McHugh, is being lined up to contest the Seanad seat vacated by Grace O'Sullivan.

Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh may contest Seanad seat

Green Party MEP candidate, Saoirse McHugh, is being lined up to contest the Seanad seat vacated by Grace O'Sullivan.

With Ms O'Sullivan safely elected to the European Parliament, the party is desperate to hold on to the Seanad seat and is also keen to capitalise on Ms McHugh's new-found popularity.

Several senior Green party members have made it known that they would really want McHugh to contest the seat as she could attract cross-party support and give her a platform to try to get elected to the Dáil at the next General Election.

While she ultimately failed to win a seat in the Midlands Northwest constituency, Ms McHugh's party leader Eamon Ryan told the Irish Examiner that he “would love it” if she were elected to the Upper House.

“It is very early days and I have not spoken to her about it. But I would love to see it happen.

"Grace was only elected yesterday so we will have to have discussions about it, but Saoirse would be a great candidate. We would need the help of others and miracles can happen,” he said.

A party spokesman said discussions about the senate seat will take place in the coming days ahead of a convention.

Ms McHugh said it would be a shame for there not to be a green voice in the Seanad: “I haven't heard anything from Eamon Ryan about Grace's seat!

"She has been brilliant in the senate and it would be a shame for there not to be a green voice in the Seanad.

"I'm taking a few weeks' holiday before I decide on what to do next."

Under Seanad by-election rules, for Ms McHugh to be allowed to contest the vacant seat, she would need to be nominated by no fewer than nine members of the Dáil or Seanad.

As the Greens only have two TDs and now no Senators, they will need the support of other political parties or independents to get on the ballot paper.

Grace O'Sullivan was elected yesterday
Grace O'Sullivan was elected yesterday

The electorate at a by-election is composed of members of the Dáil and the Seanad only and voting is by secret ballot.

Ms McHugh was eliminated from the European elections in the Midlands North West constituency, despite an exit poll predicting she would be elected.

Ms McHugh, who rose to prominence after performing well in an RTÉ debate during the campaign, was eliminated the 14th count.

Born in the US, she moved to her father’s native village of Doogah on Achill Island off the coast of Mayo at a young age.

The 28-year-old is an environmentalist with a background in sustainable agriculture and food security.

[]b- Additional reporting by Elaine Loughlin

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