Low stakes, high risks: the perils of the Seanad by-election

While Hazel Chu embarks on a solo run for a Seanad seat, many in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are concerned that their parties’ fragile election pact will fall apart in a welter of mutual distrust

The vacancies in the Seanad have been caused by the resignations of Elisha McCallion of Sinn Féin, who failed to return a Covid-19 business grant that was wrongly paid into her former Westminster constituency office account. Picture: Getty

The stakes may appear low, but Seanad by-elections have an increasing knack for embroiling our political leaders in controversy.

Enda Kenny found himself battling allegations of cronyism and stroke politics in 2014 after Fine Gael’s candidate John McNulty was shoe-horned onto the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art shortly ahead of his Seanad election run, which he ultimately withdrew from amid controversy.

Seven years on, Eamon Ryan is learning that even the option ...