Galway secures three Seanad seats, but could win more

Tom Welby tipped to win seat on Administration Panel. Will he join Alice Marty Higgins, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, and Ronán Mullen?

Sinn Féin's Trevor Ó Clochartaigh with friends and colleagues following his re-election to Seanad Éireann.

Sinn Féin's Trevor Ó Clochartaigh with friends and colleagues following his re-election to Seanad Éireann.

Three Galwegians have secured seats in the Seanad Éireann, with victories for Alice Mary Higgins, Sinn Féin's Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Independent Ronán Mullen. However, with the count ongoing, more could join them.

In what has been a successful Seanad election for Sinn Féin, Sen Ó Clochartaigh retained his seat in the upper house, being the second Seantor elected to the Agriculture Panel. He was elected on the second count, following transfers from his poll-topping party colleague, Rose Conway-Walsh.

Sen Mullen was re-elected to the NUI Seanad Panel, topping the poll with 20 per cent of first preferences. This was despite moves among a section of those eligible to vote for NUI candidates, to defeat him, owing to his conservative Catholic values, and by calling for voters to only back candidates that who called for a repeal of the highly controversial Eight Amendment of the Constitution.

Sen Mullen, however, prevailed. Speaking afterwards, said many of those who voted for him had told him personally that their support was due to the fact "he was the only candidate on the NUI panel speaking up for the Eighth Amendment" and the "positive things it had done in protecting human life and human rights".

Galway secured a second NUI Panel seat last night, with Alice Mary Higgins, daughter of Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins, overcoming her nerest rival, fellow Galwegian and businessman Pádraig Ó Céidigh, gaining huge transfers in late counts, particulalrly in the 20th and 21st counts. Hardly has the dust settled on her victory, but already political watchers are speculating that she may well be the Labour Galway West candidate at the next election. However such speculaton has often been mooted before and Ms Higgins has long dismissed it.

Another Galwegian with a chance of a Seanad seat is Oughterard based county councillor Tom Welby, who is standing for the seven-seat Administration Panel. While counting for it has not started yet, based on the performance of Independents/Others to date, and especially with another ex-PD Victor Boyhan already elected on the Agriculture Panel, Cllr Welby's chances are being rated highly by others. Indeed a well placed source at the Seanad count this week told the Galway Advertiser, "Tom is a certainty".

Less successful though were the NUI Panel bids of Galway city councillor Pearse Flannery and businessman/sailor Enda Ó Coineen. Neither man has polled enough to be in with a chance of a seat. Meanwhile, Martin Daly from Ballygar came in or around sixth place, but is probably too far behind at this stage to take the third seat.

There was also disappointment for former Fianna Fáil Galway East TD Colm Keaveney, who failed to be elected to the Seanad Labour Panel, reaching the 13th count. Fianna Fáil Galway West candidate and former city councillor John Connolly also failed in his Seanad bid, and has admitted to being "very, very disappointed".

Mr Connolly was competing for a seat on the Cultural and Educational Panel, and although he did well on transfers, he was unable to bridge the gap between himself and the other FF candidates, Malcolm Byrne and Lorraine Clifford-Lee - who eventually won a seat. Another candidate for the Cultural and Educational Panel was Oughterard's Seamus Walsh, who also failed to be elected.

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