Seanad elections yield three Senators for South County Dublin

By Brendan Grehan

LAST MONTH’S SEANAD election proved a fertile hunting ground for local candidates with three South Dublin candidates winning Seanad seats.

Former Mayor, Fintan Warfield (SF) was the first Senator to be elected and topped the polls in the Cultural and Educational Panel.

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Tallaght Councillor Maire Devine (SF) was elected on the Labour Panel, and outgoing President of the Trinity College Dublin Students Union Lynn Ruane garnered a lot of headlines when she took the last seat on the University of Dublin Panel.

Senator Warfield was elected after the first count, taking 200 papers for 200,000 votes, well above the 187,167 quota.

He told The Echo: “The Sinn Féin strategy was to implement structures across the state. We had 181 representatives across TDs, senators and councillors. I got 200 votes, so 20 votes must have come from other quarters, including independents.”

Senator Warfield says that LGBT issues will be top of his agenda in the Seanad.

He said: “The issues I will be raising will be a continuation of the issues I raised in the council. LGBT issues, housing and homelessness, the tragedy of young lives and mental health and free fees for students.”

Gender Recognition is another issue which Senator Warfield needs to be kept on the agenda. The Gender Recognition Act was passed in 2015 but he feels that it should be extended to transgender youths aged between 16 and 18.

Senator Máire Devine has said that it is a great honour to have been elected to the Seanad and will be a strong advocate for nurses and the mental health services. A mental health nurse, she also is a councillor with South Dublin Council, a seat which she now has to vacate.

She said: “It is a great honour to have been elected to the Seanad. I would like to thank my Sinn Féin colleagues who nominated and voted for me. I have been privileged to have served on South Dublin County Council for five years and I would like my colleagues there for their support and best wishes.”

Senator Devine says she will be a voice in the Oireachtas for nurses and a strong advocate for the mental health services.

The one candidate that made the front pages was Lynn Ruane who took a Seanad seat in the University of Dublin Panel ahead of incumbent Senators Sean Barrett and Averil Power. Elected on the 15th count with 3,343 votes, she was on The Late Late Show last Friday and appeared as part of the jury on TV3’s Trial of the Century over the weekend.

From Killinarden, Senator Ruane rose to prominence last year when she was elected president of the TCDSU. She left school at 15 and entered Trinity through the Trinity Access Programme.

Her involvement with student politics led to her running for the Seanad.

She said:” I have seen the impact I have had in Trinity and I want to bring that into the Seanad. I decided to do it just before Christmas. I thought if I was going to make an impact that would be the time, when I have a bit of a profile, so it felt like the right time to give it a bash.”

She says she hopes to champion the causes that are close to her heart, such as helping those with addictions, the homeless crisis, and education equality.

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