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Seanad count gets under way with restricted access due to Covid-19

The count will take place in Dublin Castle with counting to continue until Friday.

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Counting is due to get under way (Yui Mok/PA)

Counting is due to get under way (Yui Mok/PA)

Counting is due to get under way (Yui Mok/PA)

Counting in the Seanad election begins on Monday with access to the count centre restricted due to Covid-19.

Seanad candidates’ election campaigns were put on hold during the outbreak in order to comply with social distancing measures.

Chairman of the Seanad Jerry Buttimer said on Twitter it is “inappropriate” for candidates to attend the count but said it is ultimately a personal decision.

The count will be restricted to those who are entitled by law to be there and appropriate safety measures will be in place at the count centre to ensure the safety of staff.

Journalists will not be attending the count so coverage of the election will be provided on the Oireachtas.ie website and on social media platforms.

Counting will begin on Monday afternoon, to fill 43 of the 60 senators’ seats from vocational panels.

There are 118 candidates seeking election to the vocational panels, comprising culture and education, agricultural, industrial and commercial and administrative.

Counting for the cultural and educational panel’s five senators starts on Monday with a result expected late tonight.

Votes from the 43 vocational panel seats will be counted at the Printworks Centre in Dublin Castle on Monday and is expected to continue until Friday April 3.

The university counts – for six seats, three each from National University of Ireland colleges and Trinity College, will start on Tuesday.

The final 11 senators to make up the next Seanad will be announced by the taoiseach of the next government.

Outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is not able to nominate the final 11 senators, putting pressure on politicians for a new government to be formed.

Following the inconclusive general election result in February,  government formation talks have made little progress and have been derailed as the caretaker Government deals with Covid-19.

While there have been calls for a national government to be formed to deal with the crisis, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will meet this week for formal government formation talks.

On Friday, Tanaiste Simon Coveney said the country needs a government that is strong and stable and that one can be formed relatively quickly.

PA