SDCC elections caught several parties off guard with some surprise changes

by Padraig Conlon
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The green wave that swept the land last weekend left its mark on South Dublin County Council.

The story of the election locally was one of a very low turnout, a drop in support for the left and of course the Green surge.

When the new South Dublin County Council meets for the first-time next month it will not be controlled by Sinn Fein who lost three seats.

Fine Gael retained their seven seats and Fianna Fail, who won eight, will now hold the balance of power in the Council, a trend that was reflected nationwide.

The Green Party had a massive improvement on their results from 2014 by winning four seats as opposed to the solitary one last time out.

Independents again polled very strongly with nine returned after all results were counted.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was in Citywest count centre on Saturday evening to lend his support to local candidates.

Commenting on the excellent showing by the Greens both locally and nationally, he said the government must take the results on board.

“I think it’s a very clear message from the public that they want us to do more on climate action,” he said.

“It will require lots of changes at individual level, community level and also at Government level in terms of policy.

“Voters had made it clear they are up for that; they want us to do it”.

Another visitor to Citywest was Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald who spoke of her disappointment at her party’s results.

“I am disappointed for our people who ran and who served for the last five years and who I know wanted to continue to serve their communities,” she said.

“We’re really disappointed that we haven’t managed to hold the new ground we made five years ago.

“On that occasion, the surge was for Sinn Féin.

“This time, the surge is for the Greens,” she said.

“There is an issue that we need to address politically in terms of disengagement from politics generally, particularly in identifiable parts of Dublin and beyond, so I think it’s a mixture of things.”

The first candidate to be elected on Saturday night was veteran Fianna Fáil stalwart Charlie O’Connor who took Tallaght Central.

For the first time in his long political career, which has spanned almost three decades, he exceeded the quota on the first count.

One Sinn Fein candidate who was celebrating was former UFC fighter Paddy Holohan who was fighting his first ever election.

Contesting Tallaght South he was elected on the sixth count much to the delight of his party colleagues.

Speaking to Dublin Gazette he said:

“This is a very proud moment for me, the boy who grew up in a council house is now a Councillor!

“It’s been an eye opener so far definitely, I’ve learned a lot about politics.

“The big lesson I’ve learned from the last few months of campaigning is politics can be more nasty and vicious than MMA.

“At least when they come at you in MMA you can see them coming.

“In this game they come at you smiling but behind your back they’re trying to sabotage you!

“You have to be very careful!”

Another maiden victor was Fine Gael’s Baby Pereppadan, who also ran in Tallaght South.

Originally from India, he has lived in Ireland since 2001.

“I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for making this five month journey a grand success!” he said following confirmation of his win.

“I am really looking forward to serving the community to the best of my ability.”

In the build up to this years’ election there was a bit of confusion due to the appearance in Clondalkin of another Eoin Ó Broin.

An Independent candidate with the same name as the local Sinn Féin TD, the new Eoin Ó Broin was elected on the sixth count.

Solidarity-People Before Profit candidates Madeleine Johansson, Sandra Fay and Kieran Mahon all won seats in what was a disappointing election overall for the party with councillors Mick Murphy and Brian Leech failing to get re-elected, something Solidarity TD Paul Murphy put down to the low turnout from working class communities.

For Labour it was another election to forget in the area with just two candidates, Pamela Kearns and Johanna Tuffy, getting over the line.

In the European election Dublin Mid-West Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald was elected to the European Parliament after the 14th count for the Dublin constituency.

Speaking after she won the second of four seats in the Dublin constituency with 78,580 votes, Ms Fitzgerald said:

“I am absolutely delighted.

“It’s a great vote. I think it’s very encouraging in the sense that it is support for the party’s approach to Europe and how we have dealt with the Brexit issue over the last number of years.

“I wanted to run for Europe because it’s a critical time for Ireland.

“There are huge changes with the UK pulling out. It’s very challenging for Ireland and a lot of key decisions are going to be taken in the European Parliament.”

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