Two Seanad By-Elections, Two new FF Senators

Apart from the speculation on who will be Fianna Failure‘s nominees for the two Seanad by-elections (caused by the death of Senator Tony Kett [FF] and election to the European Parliament of Senator Alan Kelly [LAB]), a few people have been asking about the numbers, and whether Fianna Failure are really sure of victory in the two races (which are held as two seperate ballots, as the two vacancies arise on seperate panels).

Seanad Éireann

Seanad Éireann

Under Seanad by-election rules, only members of the Oireachtas, and not Councillors, may vote this time.

Here’s the maths:

The starting tally in the vote would be:

FF 27 Senators
FG 15 Senators (14 + Colm O’Gorman Ciaran Cannon)
LAB 5 Senators (6 – Alan Kelly)
PD 1 Senators (Fiona O’Malley, who can be expected to go FF, probably)
GRN 2 Senators (who can be expected to go FF)
SF 1 Senator
OTH 7 Senators (of which, 3 can, on a good day & with the right candidates, likely be expected to go LAB [Norris, Bacik, O’Toole], 2 FG [Ross, F Quinn], 1 FF [Harris], 1 unknown [Mullen])

Giving a final Seanad tally of:
FF 31
FG 17
2 unknown

FF 77 TDs (78 – Seamus Brennan)
FG 52 TDs (51 + George Lee)
LAB 20 TDs
PD 2 TDs (who can be expected to go FF)
GRN 6 TDs (who can be expected to go FF)
SF 4 TDs
OTH 5 TDs (of which, 2 can likely be expected to go FF [Healy-Rae, Cooper-Flynn], remainder unknown)

Giving a final TDs tally of:
FF 87
FG 52
LAB 20
10 unknown

This then gives:
Overall Tally:
FF 87 + 31 = 118
FG 52 + 17 = 69
LAB 20 + 8 = 28
Unknown 10 + 2 = 12 (including Sinn Féin)

We’ll skip past the unknowns for a moment. We’ll now consider that FG and Labour would be likely to field combined candidates in each race (presumably one FG and one LAB):

Revised Tally:
FF 118
FG/LAB 69 + 28 = 97
Unknown = 12

Even allowing for all the unknowns (Sinn Féin, Independents and Senator Ronan Mullen) to jump in with Fine Gael and Labour, that only brings their total to 109. Allow for the Ceann Comhairle and the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad to choose not to cast votes (I’m not sure of the protocol on that), and you bring the FF total down to 116. That’s 7 votes short of what would be needed to beat an FF candidate.

So, you’d need four TDs or Senators on the Fianna Failure side to jump ship to the FG/LAB side in order to change the result. Or, seven FF-pool (i.e. including FF gene pool independents, Greens and PD) TDs or Senators to fail to submit a ballot paper.

It’s not impossible, but very very unlikely.

For the record, my bets on Fianna Failure’s nominees are former Lord Mayor of Dublin and European Parliament candidate Eibhlin Byrne (presumably she ran for Europe on the promise of a Seanad seat) and former MEP Eoin Ryan (unless the Andrews family can stop him – he’ll be wanting a run in Dublin South East against Chris Andrews next time out, and would likely beat him to a pulp in any contest).


It’s Ciaran Cannon, not Colm O’Gorman, of course.  Thanks Mick & Eoin for pointing that out!

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