LABOUR’S Cllr Joe Leddin and Fine Gael’s Cllr Pat Kennedy confirmed this week they were interested in getting a nomination to contest the Seanad elections.
But Mayor Maria Byrne and Cllr Diarmuid Scully, both of whom contested the elections for Fine Gael four years ago, said they were not interested in running this time around, with Cllr Scully saying the Upper House had “not done its job as a brake on bad legislation” and had outlived its usefulness.
Cllr Leddin, who was unsuccessful in his Dail bid at the weekend, had an outside chance to replace Alan Kelly as an MEP for Ireland South if Arthur Spring and Senator Phil Prendergast had both been elected to the Dail. But Senator Prendergast is now Strasbourg-bound and Cllr Leddin confirmed he has put his name forward for the industrial and commercial panel.
Members of the parliamentary party as well as its Central Council will now select seven people for the five panels from which councillors, TDs and outgoing senators will elect senators.
Any career in the Seanad looks likely to be shortlived however with both Labour and Fine Gael committed to its abolition.
“It is something that would have to be put to the people in a referendum and the commitment is there to do that over the lifetime of the next government.” Cllr Leddin said.
If he is ultimately successful, Cllr Leddin’s Council seat would become vacant and a co-option from members of his Labour branch would follow.
Cllr Kennedy previously served in the Seanad for 11 years, having been nominated by the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland. That body will meet in the Green Isle Hotel outside Dublin this Saturday to select its candidates. There are 171 delegates from City and Town Councils around the country, 63 of whom are Fine Gael members, 35 Labour, 31 Fianna Fail and 42 Independent.
“I have submitted my name to the AMAI but with a certain amount of reluctance. At this stage of my life I enjoy staying at home in Limerick and working as a councillor,” Cllr Kennedy said this Thursday.
Sources claimed this week that Limerick County Council chairman Richard Butler might also be interested but he said “nobody has approached me about a nomination and I have approached nobody for a nomination.”
It was also suggested Mayor Byrne might not be in the running because she was in line to replace Sean Kelly MEP in Europe if the former GAA president succeeds Mary McAleese in Aras an Uachtarain later this year.
Such speculation was well wide of the mark, Mayor Byrne said.
“Not at all. I never went forward for it and my name isn’t on any list,” she said, accusing Council colleagues of spin.
Meanwhile, Corbally’s Daniel Sullivan is seeking the backing of NUI and Trinity graduates in his bid for the Seanad. He contested the 2007 Seanad campaign on a platform of electoral reform and believes abolishing the Seanad in isolation won’t mean much without more widespread changes. Mr Sullivan has in the past criticised the “elitism” that allows NUI and Trinity graduates vote in the elections while UL graduates are excluded.