Fianna Fail fight back in battle to reclaim Fingal voters’ loyalty

by Gazette Reporter

FIANNA Fail’s increase in national popularity was felt in Fingal Dublin this year, with former senator Darragh O’Brien topping the poll – finishing with 17.93% of the vote.
Some 60,850 of 93,486 potential voters in the area cast a ballot for 2016, giving Fianna Fail 23.49% of the total vote, ahead of Fine Gael’s 20.17%, and Labour’s 9.95%.
Speaking to The Gazette, O’Brien credited his victory to a hard-working campaign team, as well as Fianna Fail’s pledge to address issues faced by voters.
He said: “A local issue, but a very significant one, was the [subject of] airport pensions – this Government has hammered 15,000 people, mainly in this area, by cutting their pensions up to 60%.
“People have no money left at the end of the month, [yet have] big mortgages and childcare costs. We offered an alternative.”
Independents 4 Change candidate Clare Daly finished in second place with 10,566 votes, reaching the quota at the fourth count.
Although left-wing parties and candidates did not fare as well as anticipated in this general election, Daly says that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael’s time dominating Irish politics will soon end.
Speaking to The Gazette, she said: “If this election has taught us anything, it’s that the civil war parties’ terminal decline continues.
“The joint share that they have of the vote now is at a record low, but what’s going to take its place hasn’t quite taken shape yet.”
This year saw an increase in support for Independents, with such candidates taking 26.24% of the vote in Fingal Dublin.
Six independents ran in Dublin Fingal this year, compared to just one in 2011.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael’s Dr James Reilly lost his seat, having topped the polls in 2011. Dr Reilly took 6,215 votes in this election, compared to 10,178 votes in 2011.
He partially attributed his decline in popularity to his time spent as the Minister for Health. His seat ultimately went to Sinn Fein’s Louise O’Reilly, after what supporters for both candidates described as ‘a dog fight’.
Sinn Fein supporters credited O’Reilly’s victory to her hard work, as well as the electorate’s disdain for Fine Gael and Labour’s austerity policies.
Sinn Fein councillor, and campaign coordinator, Philip Lynam said: “We’ve been out profiling Louise for the last year, 12 months on the ground. She’s a very hard worker. She’ll be very good for this community.”
Despite Dr Reilly’s loss, the coalition government did manage to maintain two seats – Labour and Fine Gael’s Brendan Ryan and Alan Farrell retained their places in the Dail, finishing with 9.95% and 12.44% of the vote respectively.
Renua Ireland’s Gerry Malloy finished with 2,355 votes, just ahead of the Socialist Party’s Terry Kelleher, who was excluded at count three, with 2,210 votes, while the Green Party’s Joe O’Brien got 3,758 votes.
Supporters at the count centre in Cloghran waited until 6 o’clock for the first count on Saturday, after a “small discrepancy” of 250 misplaced votes caused delays.
O’Brien was the only candidate to be elected at the first count.
There was some tension on Sunday morning at the eighth count, as Independents 4 Change’s Barry Martin called for a recount – he was behind Fianna Fail’s Lorraine Clifford Lee by just 22 votes.
The recount, however, found that no mistakes had been made, and Martin was eliminated, finishing with 5,077 votes.
The ninth count then saw Clifford Lee eliminated, with a total of 5,595 votes.
Her votes were then distributed, and Ryan, Farrell, and O’Reilly were elected without having reached the quota of 10,065.
The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr David O’Connor (Ind), was present at the count centre, and expressed the opinion that a Fianna Fail and Fine Gael government was inevitable.
Speaking with The Gazette, he said: “The people have spoken. At five past seven this morning, I called a Fine Gael/ Fianna Fail government. It’s as simple as that. They are going to have to negotiate; that’s the nature of politics.”
Poll-topper Darragh O’Brien, however, said that he does not particularly wish to go into government with Fine Gael. “This has been an unbelievably unpopular and uncaring government. The last thing that I want to do is to prop up a taoiseach who has failed.”

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