With the amount of apathy that has surrounded this week’s Seanad Elections, there is no doubt that the biggest talking point last night was the (at time of going to press ) almost certain re-election to the Seanad of local candidate Fidelma Healy Eames.
Sen Healy Eames is at present perhaps the most colourful and emotion -inspiring of our Oireachtas politicians and her recent defeat in the General Election came as a major blow to her — not only because of the narrowness of the margins that saw her lose out by fewer than 100 votes — but because of the dramatic nature of the recount and the seeming abandonment of her by her own party at a time when you would think a valued vote-getter should be accepted with warmth into the bosom of the party on the crest of a wave. Post election, the Maree senator came in for some major grave-dancing from politicians and the media, ourselves included, and there was major undisguised glee that the project to see her elected into the Dail had come unstuck, just when everything else was falling into place.
Political analysts pronounced that her career was at an end, that she could never recover from the humiliation of not winning the seat, when her party was on a high. It was felt that she could not have the political will to start from scratch again and rekindle her hope that one day she would be elected to the Cabinet role which she craved,
Within her own party, there were groupings who swore that she wouldn’t get a sniff of a Seanad seat and others who swore blind that she would. She manages to capture immmense loyalty and hostility through her drive and her approach, but that is her style and the style that has seen her recover from knockout blows to stay standing in the ring and hold the champion’s belt aloft. Last night, she showed that she has the strength to survive the political and personal attacks and retain her compusure and her original goal.
So this evening, let us congratulate her on her re-election, and also congratulate Sen Michael Mullin, Sen Ronan Mullen and Sen Trevor O Clochartaigh who secured their seats in the last 48 hours and will join Sen Healy Eames in what will perhaps be the last ever Seanad. The results of the campaigns by Pat Hynes, Tom McHugh and Lorraine Higgins will only unfold this afternoon, and we wish them well.
Because the Seanad has become so discredited through events like the Callely scandal and the generous expenses enjoyed by members, the public will not be broken hearted to welcome its demise, when they get the opportunity to do so next year. However, the results of this election do throw some light on the internal workings of the main parties as they all build for the future.