Donegal based Traveller woman loses out in Seanad race

A YOUNG mother living in Donegal has narrowly failed in her bid to become the first Traveller elected to the Oireachtas.

Eileen Ní Fhloinn (30) lives in Ardara with her husband Liam Whyte and baby daughter Billie. She was running for the Seanad on the Labour panel having been nominated by Killybegs Independent TD Thomas Pringle and three People before Profit TDs, namely Brid Smith, Gino Kenny and Richard Boyd Barrett.

Ms Ní Fhloinn received 76 (76,000) first preference votes, placing her seventh of the twenty candidates. The quota was set at 94,417 and the young mother remained in the battle for one of the eleven available seats throughout the day.


Outgoing Senator, Monaghan based Robbie Gallagher, who is a native of Termon was contesting the same panel. The Fianna Fail representative was third across the line, joining poll-topper Jerry Buttimer and John Cummins back in the upper House.

At the end of a long day and seventeen counts Ms Ní Fhloinn was just edged out by Pauline O’Reilly (Green Party), Paul Gavan (Sinn Fein) and Marie Sherlock (Labour Party) for the three remaining seats.

Unfortunately, Ms Ní Fhloinn was unable to secure enough transfers.

Speaking to the Donegal News ahead of the election, Ms Ní Fhloinn explained that she was an Irish Traveller Woman challenging inequalities in society, not just in the Traveller community but for all that suffer marginalisation.

She was born and raised in Labre Park, Ballyfermot, the first site built specifically for Travellers by a Local Authority in Ireland.

“I am a daughter, a mother and so much more. I’m a Traveller and have their rights at my very heart but so too do I have the rights of all those at the margins of Irish society – the working class people, those who haven’t got the money to rent homes and the homeless. Domestic violence – against both men and women – is also a key focus as are children’s rights and LGBT+ rights. I’m involved in so much,” she said.

“I’m not just looking for equality for Travellers, I want to see and live in a world where everybody is treated properly,” she added.


Eileen’s husband Liam stood as an Independent candidate in last year’s local elections where he secured 822 first preference votes.

Former Fianna Fail TD Niall Blaney won a seat on the agricultural panel on Tuesday night.



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