It might not have been as shocking as Jim Gavin’s retirement but Mark Ward’s victory in the Dublin Mid-West by election was unexpected.
The new Sinn Fein TD, an avid Dubs fan, produced a victory his fellow Clondalkin man would have been proud of.
Most of the pre-election talk was of a potential battle for Frances Fitzgerald’s old seat between her party colleague Councillor Emer Higgins and Independent Councillor Paul Gogarty.
But when the first ballot boxes were opened a different story started emerging and it looked like the government were going to take a kicking in Dublin Mid-West.
Ward led from the start and following nine counts was deemed elected with 24% of the first preference votes, Cllr Higgins was second with 19%, third was Cllr Gogarty with 13% and Fianna Fail’s Shane Moynihan was fourth with 11%.
The local electorate’s interest in the bye election was minimal and this was shown in the record low turnout of 26%.
Only 19,447 votes were cast but Sinn Fein managed to poll very strongly in working class areas following a well fought campaign.
Mark Ward, who joins party colleague Eoin O Broin as the second Sinn Fein TD for Dublin Mid-West, said his victory was an indicator of local people’s feelings towards the government.
“We got the message on the doors, we knocked on all the houses in Dublin Mid-West and the message we got is that people in Dublin Mid-West are sick to the back teeth of austerity politics,” he said.
“They’re sick of waiting lists in hospitals, waiting for housing and people being put to the pin of their collars with high rents.”
The new local TD didn’t have to wait too long for his first major act in the Dail when he entered Leinster House on Tuesday.
Deputy Ward used his maiden speech to urge TDs to support a motion of no confidence in Minister For Housing Eoghan Murphy taking place later on Tuesday night.
“Homeless figures are up again, the normalisation of this crisis is not normal” Deputy Ward said.
“And this housing crisis is not normal…it’s not normal having 4,000 children spending Christmas in a hub, in a B and B, in a hotel, in temporary accommodation.
“Minister your housing policies have failed, your term as Housing Minister must come to an end,” Deputy Ward said.
“To the two new Fianna Fáil TDs who joined me here today, I have a message for you, you did not get elected to sit on your hands.”
The Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy went on to just about survive the motion of no confidence with TDs voting by 56 votes to 53 against the motion, with 35 abstentions.