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Burke returns to the Seanad while Murray misses out


LONG-TIME SERVICE Senator Paddy Burke taking the Seanad Éireannn chair on the day he was elected Cathaoirleach of Seanad in 2011.


Anton McNulty

Veteran Fine Gael senator Paddy Burke has been reelected to the Seanad, but Charlestown-based Sinn Féin councillor Gerry Murray failed in his bid to be elected to the Upper House.
Counting in the Agricultural Panel concluded this afternoon with Castlebar-based Paddy Burke retaining his Seanad seat he first won in 1993. There was disappointment for Cllr Gerry Murray, who was eliminated on the final count, but Ballindine-native Pippa Hackett of the Green Party retained her seat.
Both Burke and Hackett will join former Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers in the Seanad after she was elected yesterday afternoon after winning her seat on the Cultural and Educational Panel.
There were 25 candidates vying for one of the eleven seats on the Agricultural Panel with counting commencing yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. The total electorate made up of Dáil deputies, outgoing senators and city and county councillors was 1,130, but for counting purposes each vote is multiplied by 1,000. The quota was set at 94,167.
Following the first count, Cllr Murray obtained 67,000 votes with Senator Burke sightly behind on 63,000 and Senator Hackett on 76,000. Outgoing Independent senator Victor Boyhan topped the poll with 89,000 votes, and was the first to be elected on the sixth count.
The field consisted of eight Fianna Fáil canidates and six Fine Gael candidates who benefited largely from transfers during the count. Senator Burke was elected on the 18th count, with 102,000 votes along with former Roscommon Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy, who lost his seat in February’s general election.
Hackett, who currently resides in Co Offaly, reached the quota on the 20th and final count with Cllr Murray losing out on the final seat to his Sinn Féin colleague, former Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan. As the counts progressed, it was clear that Cllr Murray was struggling to pick up transfers and eventually ended up with 75,979.
The other candidates to be elected were Denis O’Donovan, Paul Daly, Niall Blaney (all Fianna Fáil), Tim Lombard, Michael Darcy (Fine Gael) and Annie Hoey (Labour).
Robeen-based Fine Gael councillor Patsy O’Brien is running as an Independent candidate in the Industrial and Commercial Panel after he was not ratified as an official party candidate. Cllr O’Brien was recently suspended from the party ‘pending an investigation by the party into an allegation against him’. Claremorris native Senator Catherine Noone is also contesting this panel for Fine Gael.Counting on this panel is due to begin tomorrow (Thursday).
Counting is also continuing in the two University Panels – National University of Ireland and Trinity – with Castlebar-based business woman 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.
Following the first count in the NUI Panel, Ms Staunton-Barrett received 446 votes while Mr Scanlon received 309. Outgoing senator Ronan Mullen was reelected after topping the poll with 4,642 votes.