Seanad Election: Who got in – and who missed out – on the Agriculture Panel

The Seanad Election was held yesterday, Tuesday, March 31, to elect 43 of the 60 members for the upper house of the Oireachtas, with the count taking place today – amid tight Covid-19-related restrictions on how it was carried out.

The 43 members are elected by TDs, outgoing senators and members of city and county councils. The candidates are divided into ‘Vocational Panels’ according to each candidate’s area of expertise, of which the Agriculture Panel is one.

That panel elects 11 of the 43 members. This election saw 25 candidates on the panel fight it out for the 11 seats, with a total valid poll of 1,130,000 and a quota to guarantee election of 94,167 (for the Agriculture Panel).

The most high-profile figure to miss out on election was Pat Deering, who until the February General Election served as a TD for the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency, as well as the chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Another notable candidate to miss out was Patrick Kent, the former president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

The 11 candidates to make the cut are as follows:

  • Victor Boyan, independent (retained seat);
  • Denis O’Donovan, Fianna Fáil (retained seat);
  • Paul Daly, Fianna Fáil (retained seat);
  • Niall Blaney, Fianna Fáil (new member, former TD for Donegal from 2007 to 2011);
  • Tim Lombard, Fine Gael (retained seat);
  • Paddy Burke, Fine Gael (retained seat);
  • Michael D’Arcy, Fine Gael (new member, former TD for Wexford from 2016-2020 and former minister for state for financial services and insurance);
  • Eugene Murphy, Fianna Fáil (new member, former TD for Roscommon-Galway from 2016 to 2020);
  • Pippa Hackett, Green Party (retained seat, elected from Agriculture Panel in a by-election last year following party colleague and former senator Grace O’Sullivan’s election to the European Parliament);
  • Annie Hoey, Labour (new member, unsuccessful candidate in 2020 General Election for Meath East);
  • Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin (new member, former MEP for Dublin from 2014 to 2019).

The Agriculture Panel – which also deals with fisheries – is one of five Vocational Panels that together elect 43 senators.

Of the remaining 17 members, 11 are nominated by the Taoiseach, while six are elected by graduates of Trinity College and the National University of Ireland.

Apart from the Agriculture Panel, the other four electing panels are:

  • The Administrative Panel (public administration and social services), which elects seven members;
  • The Cultural and Educational Panel (education, the arts and the Irish language, culture and heritage), which elects five members;
  • The Industrial and Commercial Panel (industry and commerce), which elects nine members;
  • The Labour Panel (organised labour or otherwise), which elects 11 members.