Strong field of Mayo candidates looking for Seanad seats

A number of high profile Mayo candidates have been put forward to contest the upcoming elections for the 26th Seanad.

Fianna Fáil's Lisa Chambers who lost her Dáil seat in last month's general election is the most recognisable Mayo name looking to win a seat in the upper house of the Oireachtas. She will be looking to win a seat on the Cultural and Educational Panel which will elect five senators, also looking to win a seat on this panel is the Green Party's rising star, Saoirse McHugh, who also contested the general election in Mayo last month where she got 4,177 number one votes.

Outgoing Fine Gael Senator Paddy Burke who has held a seat in the upper house since 1993 is also looking to win a seat, Burke is a former Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, holding that position from 2011 to 2016; he will be looking to retain the seat he has held on the Agricultural panel for the past 27 years.

Looking to take a seat on the Industry and Commerce panel is his party colleague, Cllr Patsy O'Brien. The Robeen based councillor contested for the party's nomination for the last general election to the Dáil - where he lost out to Alan Dillon, who went on to take one of the four seats up for grabs in Mayo. O'Brien was the biggest vote-getter in last year's local elections, getting 2,955 votes in the Claremorris Municipal District.

Aontú's Paul Lawless has also been nominated to contest the election and will be another looking for a spot on the Cultural and Educational Panel; the east Mayo native put in a solid debut showing in the February general election, getting 2,574 number one votes.

Following on from Sinn Féin's strong showing in the general election, Charlestown's Cllr Gerry Murray has been nominated to run on the Agricultural Panel. Murray had been the party's standard-bearer for a number of years in the county, before the arrival of newly elected TD Rose Conway-Walsh on the political scene. Murray contested a number of general elections for his party in the past and was the only councillor the party returned in last year's local elections, where he topped the poll in the Swinford area, taking over 23 per cent of the first preference votes.

Completing the line up of Mayo based candidates contesting the election is Castlebar businesswoman Anne Barrett-Staunton, who is looking to win one of three seats up for grabs on the NUI panel, which is elected by graduates of the National Universities of Ireland's universities and constituent schools and bodies.

Three of the outgoing going Mayo based Senators will not be contesting the upcoming elections, with Fine Gael's John O'Mahony indicating before the last general election he was stepping away from politics; his party colleague Michelle Mulherin has decided not to contest the election having run in the general last month and Fianna Fáil's Keith Swannick has also opted to step away from politics.

The Seanad consists of 60 seats with seven coming from the Administrative Panel, 11 from the Agricultural Panel, five on the Cultural and Educational Panel, nine on the Industrial and Commercial Panel, 11 from the Labour Panel, three from Trinity College panel, three from the National University of Ireland panel and 11 nominated by the Taoiseach. Each outgoing councillor, TD and senator has a vote on each of the panels, except the two university panels, which are voted on by graduates.


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