Irish Republican News · February 28, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Counting continues; coalition talks underway
Counting continues; coalition talks underway

Fine Gael and Labour have commenced talks on the formation of a new coalition government following a historic collapse in the vote of the outgoing coalition partners, Fianna Fail and the Green Party.

Counting is continuing in the 26-County general election in three constituencies: Laois/Offaly, Galway West and Wicklow. The count process stopped on Sunday as successive queries were placed over the count process in three of the State’s largest constituencies.

The projected outcome is currently Fine Gael 76 seats, Labour 37, Fianna Fail 19, Sinn Fein 15, United Left Alliance 5 and Others 14.

The election saw a broad swing to the left, as well as a strong swing from the conservative Fianna Fail party to the equally conservative Fine Gael party.

It was by far the worst result for Fianna Fail since the foundation of the party and a number of senior figures, including Tanaiste Mary Coughlan and deputy leader Mary Hanafin, lost their seats.

Fine Gael has had its best-ever election result in terms of seats and is the biggest party in the Dail for the first time in its history.

Sinn Fein is on course for its best-ever result in a 26 County election with 14 seats, while the United Left Alliance may end up with five, and Independents 14.

Labour party leader Eamon Gilmore and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny are currently meeting in private at the Dublin parliament buildings to discuss potential policies and portfolios.

Both sides have said they are under pressure from Europe to quickly agree a pact and implement austerity budget plans.

Tonight, Sinn Fein was preparing for Brian Stanley to take the first Dail seat for a Sinn Fein party in Laois/Offaly since 1922.

A recount was ordered after just 26 votes separated Liam Quinn of Fine Gael and John Moloney of Fianna Fail.

Sinn Fein Vice President Mary Lou McDonald was loudly cheered as she arrived in the count centre this evening in anticipation of the historic election.

Ms McDonald said that Mr Stanley’s election would be just the first of Sinn Fein’s victories in the Irish midlands, long seen as one one of State’s most conservative and immutable areas.

A full recount of votes is also under way in Wicklow, which has yet to elect a TD.

Only two votes reportedly separate outgoing Fianna Fail TD Dick Roche and running mate Pat Fitzgerald following a partial recount of the Wicklow vote.

The prospect of a Florida style “hanging-chad” scenario has been raised after Roche’s camp, involving over a dozen lawyers and officials, started “yellow-tagging” disputed votes. A full recount is now under way.

Anger is simmering at the behaviour of Roche’s camp and its efforts to cling to the seat, despite the overwhelming rejection of Fianna Fail nationally. Sinn Fein’s John Brady retains a strong chance to take the final seat.

Meanwhile, a full recount of votes is underway in the Galway West constituency, where the failure of a thousand Sinn Fein votes to transfer looks to have scuppered the hopes of independent progressive, Catherine Connolly, in favour of a second Fine Gael candidate.

In Cork South Central, the constituency of Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Sinn Fein Councillor Chris O’Leary narrowly failed to take a seat from Martin’s running mate, Michael McGrath.

And in Dun Laoghaire, prominent socialist campaigner Richard Boyd-Barrett took a seat for People for Profit (United Left Alliance) in Ireland’s wealthiest constituency, ousting Minister Mary Hanafin and overcoming high-profile Labour candidate Ivana Bacik.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the results of the General Election could mark the beginning of a realignment of Irish politics.

“That is certainly Sinn Fein’s focus,” said Mr Adams, who defied the pundits when he headed the poll in the Louth constituency.

“The work which we are doing in the North under the leadership of Martin McGuinness will continue while our new increased mandate across the island will be honoured by us as we deliver on our commitments and encourage others to do the same.

“I want to thank all of our candidates and their families,” he continued.

“I want to thank everyone who worked for Sinn Fein and all those citizens who voted for us.

“Theirs is is a vote for equality, a real republic and a United Ireland in which citizens are cherished.”

REAL OPPOSITION

Speaking at a media event in Dublin this morning as the newly elected TD for Dublin Central, Ms McDonald said Sinn Fein will provide strong opposition and real backbone in the Dail.

“Sinn Fein will play a very important role in the 31st Dail in providing strong opposition to the incoming Government’s plans to cut public services and social supports,” she said.

Ms McDonald indicated that the party may have discussions with like-minded newly elected independent TDs, in the effort to overtake Fianna Fail and become the main opposition party in the Dail.

The move could make Gerry Adams the leader of the opposition.

Ms McDonald said: “We haven’t had any sort of detailed discussion on joining forces with Independents.

“We are going into the Dail as an independent political party ourselves, but we will work with anybody that shares some or all of our political objectives.”

The following is the current state of the parties:

              SF       FF       FG       LB       GP      Others
 Seats won    13       18       70       36       0       17
 Vote share   10.05%   17.64%   35.51%   19.65%   1.82%   15.33%

© 2011 Irish Republican News