Five Cavan candidates, including an outgoing TD, a local businessman, and a former County Councillor have received nominations to run in the upcoming Seanad election race.
Last Friday (March 18) was a day of mixed emotions for local hopefuls, with news filtering through that former Fine Gael TD Joe O’Reilly had received a party nomination to stand for the Labour panel, Ballyjamesduff Sinn Féin Senator Kathyn Reilly had missed out.
Having lost out in the general election, the youngest Senator ever elected told The Anglo-Celt that outgoing Donegal TD Pádraig MacLochlainn was set to be nominated in her place for a spot on the Industrial and Commercial panel.
“As I said at the time, I would do what was best for the party in terms of its strategic objectives.
Pádraig is now a former TD, they informed me of their decision on Friday and I’m happy with that. I am still obviously a member of the party. We will see what the future holds,” Sen O’Reilly said.
While unwilling to declare a future interest in standing for election at local level, Sen O’Reilly, who has a Masters in European Economic and Public Affairs revealed she is hopeful she can use her experience over the past five years to help the party going forward.
“I may go back to working with the party in some role, whether that’s in Leinster House, or more locally, that again is a decision the party will make. Technically I’m still a Senator until the end of April so there is still a lot of work on my desk that I need to clear. I’m not going to stop whether or not I get a nomination, the work still has to be done,” she added.
Meanwhile, outgoing Deputy O’Reilly denies any suggestion that his nomination to the Labour panel is akin to receiving a ‘Golden Handshake’ after losing is Dáil seat last month.
Deputy O’Reilly told the Celt: “It is most definitely not that. I am very happy and pleased, and indeed honoured to be nominated by the party.
“I would see myself very much if it happens as a working senator, as I was as a TD, working around the clock on behalf of constituents across Cavan and Monaghan,” he said.
Composed of 60 members, the Seanad sees 43 seats elected to vocational panels by the country’s 949 county councillors, the 158 members of the incoming Dáil and members of the outgoing Seanad.
Another six senators are elected by the two university panels, three each by graduates of Trinity College and the National University of Ireland, with 11 others then directly appointed by the Taoiseach.
Further local nominations have been registered with Senator Diarmuid Wilson, going for a third term on the Administrative panel, Fianna Fáil councillor Shane P O’Reilly, nominated by the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) to the Agricultural panel, and former councillor, Sean McKiernan to the Industrial and Commercial panel by the Restaurant Association of Ireland. Cllr O’Reilly’s election campaign has begun in earnest, clocking up over 4,000km visiting councils and their members over the past 10-days.
“It’s an arduous task. There is a lot of mileage to be covered. But as the late John Wilson said, ‘if a vote is worth getting its worth asking for’,” Cllr O’Reilly mused.
Mr McKiernan is also optimistic of his chances, and openly describes losing his seat in the disastrous 2014 Local Elections as “one of the most difficult periods in my life”. “Around the country many high profile serving and former mayors and chairs also lost their seats,” he told the Celt. “Sadly, some will try to use my loss against me in this highly competitive Senate election. I don’t mind, as losing your seat teaches you very important lessons about people, about politics, but most importantly about yourself. It teaches you how to win bigger and better the next time, and that is what I intend to do.”
Another local to receive a nomination is Independent Candidate and Cavan businessman Eoin Terence Meehan who is running for one of the three Trinity College seats. The IT consultant will go up against the three outgoing Trinity senators, Ivana Bacik, David Norris and Sean Barrett, all of whom are running again. Senator Averil Power, who was formerly of Fianna Fáil and left the party to contest the Dáil election as an Independent, is also contesting the Trinity panel.
Elsewhere in the region, Monaghan’s Robbie Gallagher (Labour panel), Leitrim’s Paschal Mooney (Agriculture) have received nominations, while Sligo’s Susan O’Keefe of Labour (Agriculture) is expected to get the nod, as might Gerry Reynolds (FG) and and Martin Brady (FF).
Further afield, one familiar face set to make a return to the public eye is former Cavan District Court Judge Sean MacBride.
The Moville, North Donegal-native secured a nomination to run for a seat on the Cultural and Educational Panel.
With a keen interest in justice and on implementing social change through education, he told the Celt: “I think you certainly can encourage change, and you can contribute to legislation wherever necessary to tighten it up. Education is the key. Educate that you may be free.”
The 66-year-old retired judge, nominated by the Local Authority Medical Specialists, says he is committed to serving just one-term.
“I am only starting out on my campaign at the moment, but the feedback is encouraging. I am not under any illusion, this is going to be very difficult, but I am hopeful.”