Former Sinn Féin MP, Elisha McCallion, has been elected to Seanad Éireann to serve on the senate’s Industrial and Commercial panel, while the party’s former MEP Lynn Boylan has returned to political life by taking a seat on the Agricultural panel.
County councillors and members of the Dublin parliament decide who sits on the panels in the relatively weak upper chamber of Leinster House.
Ms McCallion (pictured, right) topped her poll on the first count with 95 votes, but in a dead-heat finish on Thursday night, wasn’t declared elected until the final, thirtieth, count.
A former mayor of Derry and a former Stormont assembly member, Seanadóir McCallion said she was delighted to be elected. She said she was joining the biggest Sinn Féin electoral team across the island of Ireland.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to ensure that the people of the North have another voice in the Oireachtas standing up for their interests.
“Our immediate priority is dealing with the ongoing public health emergency and taking steps to protect the public right across the island and to stop the spread of Covid-19,” she said.
The current pandemic was an unprecedented crisis and the necessary steps to combat it would undoubtedly impact on the lives of workers, families and local businesses, she said.
Seanadóir McCallion said: “It’s vital that protections already put in place, including financial support for cross border workers, are made available to workers who live in the North.”
Former Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan also took a seat on the Agricultural panel.
Ms Boylan was elected to the European Parliament as the Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin in 2014, but lost her seat in 2019 before taking a break from politics.
She has campaigned on the need for climate action, housing and justice for the families of the Stardust tragedy victims.
“Our communities need representatives who will represent their best interests,” she said.
“The pandemic has brought home to us how valuable our public services are and why they need real investment and support. It has highlighted why everyone deserves a safe and secure roof over their head.
“when this pandemic is over, we also need to take radical actions to tackle climate change and the biodiversity crisis. We are facing a collapse of our ecosystems and the pandemic has proven that there can be no return to business as usual.”
As counting continues, Sinn Féin senators who have successfully retained their seat include Fintan Warfield and Paul Gavan, although Maire Devine has lost her seat on the Labour panel. Niall O Donnghaile is also set to retain his seat on the Administrative panel, while County Armagh unionist Ian Marshall, who was supported by Sinn Féin four years ago, failed to be re-elected to the Agriculture panel.