Former TD Declan Breathnach says he expects to receive an inside nomination to allow him to run for a Seanad Éireann seat, as the Fianna Fáil representative hopes to secure his return to frontline politics.
The Knockbridge-based politician surprisingly lost his seat in the Dáil Éireann earlier in the month as Fianna Fáil endured a bad General Election in the Louth constituency. For the first time since the establishment of the State, the party has no member in the Dáil.
However, within days of his defeat Breathnach had made up his mind to pursue a seat in the Seanad, a move that would give the party members in Louth a source of representation in the Oireachtas.
With inside nominations for panels closing next Monday, Breathnach has busied himself over the last two weeks making representations for his candidacy to new TDs, outgoing Senators and city and county councillors from across the country. If nominated, as is expected, these are the people will decide whether he receives one of 43 seats available via this method.
LouthNow.ie understands that Breathnach has the backing of the party and will receive a nomination ahead of Monday’s deadline.
Breathnach, a former teacher and school principal, is seeking support for a nomination onto the cultural and educational panel.
“It’s a different kind of election,” he told LouthNow.ie. “You have to radiate out to all directions – from Louth as far as the Irish Sea.”
He says reaching out to approximately 1,300 members of the electorate has been “a major job” and “a logistical nightmare,” citing weather constraints and attempting to make his case to as wide-ranging a number of candidates nationwide while reducing his carbon footprint in doing so.
“I’m having to talk to myriad people across the country,” Breathnach explains. “You’ve got to get out and see these people. It’s such a complicated system, you have to explain the situation.”
With the inside nominations deadline shutting at noon on Monday and the closing date for nominating bodies already passed, we will know who all the runners and riders are on Monday. Ballot papers are to be issued to the electorate on March 16, with polling closed two weeks later. It will be April until the votes and counted.
Breathnach says he believes it is vital that the constituency is represented in the Seanad going forward. Labour’s Ged Nash, re-elected to the Dáil three weeks ago, became a Senator after losing his seat in 2016.
“I’d be hoping an extra voice in the Oireachtas would be beneficial to Louth. There’s a great goodwill to all the work I’ve done in the past. I believe I have a contribution to make in terms of north-south relations and with Brexit too.”
“There is a warmth towards me but until the votes are counted, I don’t know. Those I have spoken to have been very warm to me. They may not know me personally but will know my work ethic.
“It won’t be for lack of effort [if he does not win the seat],” he continued. “Louth needs a representative in Seanad Eireann to help and support the TDs.
“This vote is very important for this particular electorate. They are a wily electorate. It’s important for me to listen to them.”