ELECTED Lisa Chambers says she is looking forward to taking up her Seanad seat. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Former Mayo TD Lisa Chambers will return to the Houses of the Oireachtas after she was elected to Seanad Éireann, but there was more disappointment for Saoirse McHugh who missed out on the final count.
The count of the Cultural and Educational Panel concluded this afternoon (Tuesday), with Lisa Chambers taking one of the five seats after reaching the quota on the 16th count. There was more election heartache for Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh from Achill was in contention up until the 18th and final count, when she was eliminated. This defeat marked her third major election loss in less than a year following close defeats in both the European Election last May and more recently in February’s general election.
Chambers lost her Dáil seat after the general election and speaking today following her election to the Seanad, Chambers said she was looking forward to once again being part of the Oireachtas.
“It was an enjoyable election, and I learned a lot from it. The Seanad is an important part of the Oireachtas, it is the upper house and there will be important decisions to be taken which will have to pass through both houses in the next couple of years. I am looking forward to playing my role and being a member of the Oireachtas and Fianna Fáil parliamentary party,” she told The Mayo News.
Counting in the Seanad Election began on Monday afternoon in Dublin Castle but due to social distancing restrictions, the final result of all the panels will not be known until the end of the week.
The first panel to be counted was the Cultural and Educational Panel, with Chambers, McHugh and Aontú’s Paul Lawless – the three Mayo-based candidates in the 20-person field – vying for one of the five seats.
Following the first vote, Sinn Féin candidate Fintan Warfield topped the poll with 151 votes with McHugh in second place with 114 votes and Chambers in fourth spot with 99 votes. Lawless polled 29 votes. For counting purposes in Seanad elections, each vote is multiplied by 1,000 and the quota to reach was 188,834.
Knock-based Paul Lawless was eliminated after the sixth count, and counting was suspended after the 13th count on Monday evening until Tuesday morning.
Former Galway West TD Seán Kyne of Fine Gael was the first to be elected after the 14th count and following the elimination of former Fianna Fáil TD, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, her transfers were enough to elect both Chambers and her party colleague Malcolm Byrne.
Throughout the count it was clear that McHugh was not picking up enough transfers, and she was elimated on the 18th and final count, with Fine Gael’s John McGahon and Warfield taking the final two seats.
Counting in the Agricultural Panel is due to get underway this afternoon with Sinn Féin councillr Gerry Murray and veteran Fine Gael Senator Paddy Burke the two Mayo candidates looking to get elected.
There are 25 candidate vying for eleven seats on this panel with the final result to be later this evening or early tomorrow morning.
Fine Gael councillor Patsy O’Brien from Robeen in south Mayo is running as an Independent candidate in the Industrial and Commercial Panel after he was not added to the party’s list of candidate. Cllr O’Brien was recently suspended from the party ‘pending an investigation by the party into an allegation against him’. Counting on this panel is due to begin on Thursday.
Mayo natives Catherine Noone (Fine Gael) and Pippa Hackett (Green) are both bidding to retain their seats on vocational panels.
Counting has also begun in the two University Panels – National University of Ireland colleges and Trinity College – with three seats to be fill for each panel.
Castlebar-based businesswoman Anne Staunton-Barrett is running for one of the three seats on the NUI Panel, while Attymass native Keith Scanlon is running for both the Trinity and NUI Panels.