Fine Gael’s Maria Byrne has today (Wednesday, April 21) been elected to the Agricultural Panel of the Seanad.

Bye-elections were held to fill two vacancies in the Seanad caused by the resignations of senator Michael D’Arcy and senator Elisha McCallion.

Senator D’Arcy had been elected from the Oireachtas sub-panel of the Agricultural Panel and senator McCallion was elected from the Oireachtas sub-panel of the Industrial and Commercial Panel at the Seanad General Election in March 2020.

There are 11 senators on the Agricultural Panel and nine senators on the Industrial and Commercial Panel.

Polls closed at 11:00am today, with ballot papers having been issued on April 7. Byrne won 118 of the total 202 votes.

Seanad Agricultural Panel

Byrne was up against Labour Party Councillor Angela Feeney (15 votes) and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) Ian Marshall (69 votes) for the Agricultural Panel seat.

Byrne will be joining members of the panel: Victor Boyhan; Denis O’Donovan; Paul Daly; Niall Blaney; Tim Lombard; Paddy Burke; Eugene Murphy; Pippa Hackett (also Minister of State); Annie Hoey; and Lynn Boylan.

The Agricultural Panel – which also deals with fisheries – is one of five vocational panels that together elect 43 senators.

Byrne was elected to the Agricultural Panel in April 2016. As of recently, she has been serving as Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on education and skills.

She previously served as a councillor on Limerick City and County Council from 1999 up until her election to the Seanad. During her time on the council, she also served as Mayor of Limerick from 2010 to 2011.

When she was nominated as Fine Gael’s candidate for the bye-election, Tánaiste and party leader Leo Varadkar had said that the senator would “make an excellent member of the Seanad” if she was to return.

He added: “We need more female politicians to reflect Irish society in our Dáil and Seanad.”