Traveller rights activist Eileen Flynn is one of Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s 11 appointments to the Seanad.
Ms Flynn, from Ballyfermot in Dublin, ran in the Seanad elections earlier this year but did not take a seat. She grew up in in the Labre Park Traveller housing site and has lived in Donegal since 2018, having married a local “settled” man, Liam White. They have a daughter.
The Programme for Government said that at least half of the Taoiseach’s 11 should be women and split the appointments on the ratio of four each for Fianna Fáil and two for the Greens, with one independent.
The Fianna Fáil nominations to the Seanad are former Clare TD Timmy Dooley, who lost his seat at the last general election, Lorraine Clifford Lee, who was a member of the last Seanad and was an unsuccessful general election candidate in Dublin Fingal, Dublin city councillor Mary Fitzpatrick, who ran for the party in Dublin Central but who did not take a seat, and Louth councillor Erin McGreehan.
Fianna Fáil currently has no Dáil seat in Louth and will be hoping that Ms McGreehan can use the Seanad as a platform to become a TD.
For Fine Gael, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has chosen Emer Currie, who was his running mate at the last general election in Dublin West but did not win a Dáil seat, former minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty, who lost her seat in Meath East, Galway councillor Aisling Dolan, who ran in the general election in Roscommon-Galway and South Dublin councillor Mary Seery-Kearney.
He ran in Kildare North at the last general election and will hope to win a seat in the constituency for the Green Party in future. The other Green Party nominees is Clare councillor Róisín Garvey, who also ran for the Greens in Clare at the last election. She is seen as loyal to party leader Eamon Ryan.
The Fianna Fáil nominees are:
Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick (Dublin Central)
Former senator Lorraine Clifford Lee
Louth Cllr Erin McGreehan
Timmy Dooley, former TD
The Fine Gael nominees:
Regina Doherty(Meath East)
Cllr Aisling Dolan (Galway)
Cllr Emer Currie (Dublin West)
Cllr Mary Seery Kearney (Dublin South Central)
Green party nominees:
Clare Cllr Róisín Garvey
Cllr Vincent P Martin
Mr Martin’s appointments means that the Seanad is now fully constituted and can pass required legislation. The previous government had maintained a new taoiseach must appoint 11 senators to fully constitute the Seanad and renew the Offences Against the State Act and the Criminal Justice amendment acts, decisions which renew the mandate of the non-jury Special Criminal Court for another 12 months.
The Seanad also needs to pass legislation proposed by the last government to assist businesses through the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.
The Upper House will now sit on Monday to elect a cathaoirleach on Monday and to deal with the required, outstanding legislation.