Sinn Féin wins first Seanad seat

Sinn Féin has made history by winning a seat in the Upper House of the Dublin parliament.

Donegal representative Pearse Doherty is celebrating today after securing the highest number of first-preference votes in the Seanad [Senate].

Mr Doherty - who had failed to win a seat in the lower house Dail at the General Election - got 103 votes which has ensured his seat on the agriculture panel.

His result gives a boost to Sinn Féin after it failed to make a predicted breakthrough in the 26-County General Election.

A voting pact between Sinn Féin and the Labour Party ensured Sinn Féin’s first seat, as well as bringing an extra seat for Labour.

So far, seven Seanad seats have been filled, with Fianna Fail winning three, Labour two, Fine Gael one and Sinn Féin one.

The Seanad, originally designed to function in a manner analogous the British House of the Lords, is elected and selected by a diverse range of privileged groups, but primarily by local councillors and university graduates.

Often criticised as a relic of 19th century class divisions, the Dail’s posh brother has frequently provided a political springboard and a regular income for 26 County election hopefuls.

Sinn Féin Dail Group leader Caoimhghin O Caolain TD congratulated Pearse Doherty on his election and on topping the poll in the Agriculture Panel.

He said that Doherty would play a “hugely important role” in the parliamentary team and in ensuring that the party continues to grow.

“Our job is very clear in the time ahead,” he said.

“We will work hard in the interests of all those communities that we represent. We will hold the government to account every day of the week.

“We will work with other parties and individuals in the Dail and Seanad to help end the crisis in the health service, to prioritise investment in primary school education, build affordable housing and encourage job creation. And we will work closely with Sinn Féin Ministers in the north in the interests of everyone on the island.

“Ireland will face a lot of challenges and opportunities in the time ahead and Sinn Féin will play our part in bringing about progressive change for the country.”

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