Saturday, July 28, 2007

Values campaigner Mullen's shock Senate win "a triumph for positive values"

"A triumph for positive values" was how Rónán Mullen described his election to the NUI panel of the Seanad when the count concluded yesterday.

Senators Joe O’Toole, former head of the Irish National Teachers Organisation and prominent businessman Fergal Quinn held their seats. Labour-affiliated Brendan Ryan was defeated.

Senator Mullen, a well-known commentator on social affairs and columnist for the Daily Mail, told ciNews that his year-long campaign had focused on “community, family and the dignity of the person”.

“We have stressed that we don’t want to see Ireland run as a business,” he said.

Having come second ahead of Fergal Quinn on the first count, Mullen stayed in second spot as each of the successive candidates was eliminated.

But when Valerie Bresnihan, a human rights campaigner who also put in a strong showing on her second outing, was eliminated, her transfers put Quinn ahead of Mullen for the first time in the count.

Senator Quinn got 1415 votes from Bresnihan’s transfers. Mullen got 922, while Senator Ryan got 1351 votes. However, with Mullen already over 1100 votes ahead of Ryan, he was unable to close the gap on the Galway-born columnist.

Mullen said that, while his first preference vote of over 4,500 votes was gratifying, the number of transfers he received was “even more heartening”.

“Transfers are a measure of how politically viable you are,” he added. “They are a sign of tolerance for another voice in the Senate.

He paid tribute to outgoing Senator Ryan, saying that he had been unfailingly courteous to him at all times. He also thanked his campaign staff for their hard work, saying that they were at all times “clear, coherent and cogent”.

He promised his voters that they could look forward to “hard work and careful study of legislation”.

Senator Ryan paid tribute to Mullen, saying that the Senate was a place for different points of view, and that he felt that the new Senator would bring a fresh perspective to the Seanad.

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