Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform chairman and Irish American activist Ciaran Staunton finished just out of the frame in the voting for the Irish senate on Wednesday.

With nine seats available on his panel he finished 7th out of 36 in the first count with a decent possibility of grabbing a seat. Senate seats are not decided by universal suffrage but rather by local officials, university graduates and all elected politicians. The criticism has been strong that the system is a closed shop and undemocratic.

Staunton was eventually eliminated on the 30th count among the last 12 of the 36 candidates.

Thank you all for your support,. Eliminated in the 30th count, made it to the final 12 out of 36 candidates,But only 9 seats available.

— Ciaran Staunton (@Ciaran_Staunton) April 28, 2016
Staunton had been nominated by Sinn Fein but ran as an independent candidate focused on issues of concern to Irish emigrants. It is the first time that an Irish emigrant candidate has run for election to the Dail or Senate.

Staunton has long been a champion for immigration issues. He was involved in the campaigns which saw the introduction of the Donnelly Visa and Morrison Visa programs, co-founding the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, to help tens of thousands of Irish people living illegally in the US today. He was also an active player in the Irish peace process putting Sin Fein and the Irish American leadership together.

He has also championed awareness about sepsis through the Rory Staunton Foundation, established by him and wife Orlaith Staunton after the death of their son Rory from sepsis following a schoolyard fall four years ago.

Speaking after the close count Staunton said he was “very pleased” with his performance and looked forward to running again.

"As an outsider it was never going to be easy," he stated, "but I strongly believe the Irish abroad should have a representative in the Irish political institutions. Where is the voice of the hundreds of thousands forced to leave Ireland in the past few years?”

He also called on the Taoiseach to nominate an emigrant representative among the eleven senators he gets to name.

(Full disclosure Staunton is brother-in-law of IrishCentral Founder Niall O’Dowd.)

Read more: Rory Staunton saved our children's lives say parents