Irish Republican News · October 29, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Final election results declared
Final election results declared
aras11result.jpg

Michael D Higgins has finally been declared elected as President of Ireland following the fourth and final count in Dublin Castle this afternoon.

As the 42nd constituency reported, he exceeded one million votes on the fourth count.

The victory of the Labour Party’s candidate contrasted dramatically with the fortunes of their coalition partners, the right-wing Fine Gael, who mustered only six of votes cast, their candidate Gay Mitchell avoiding the announcement this afternoon.

Beginning the pageantry associated with the election of a new President, Mr Higgins received a scroll from the 26-County military at Dublin Castle, verified by the state’s Chief Justice, confirming that he is the President-elect.

In his victory speech, Mr Higgins said he would be “a president for all the people” who he said had given him “a very clear mandate and clear set of ideas”.

He said he would also be president “for everyone, those who didn’t vote and those who have left our shores”. He spoke of working towards an “inclusive citizenship” and of “an Ireland to be proud of, in a real republic”.

His voice rising and falling, and speaking frequently in Irish. He said he had seen “the pain of the people” but “we must now work to our strengths at home and abroad”. He spoke repeatedly of the need for “a real republic”.

He said his mandate had four pillars - inclusive citizenship, a creative society, making an Irishness to be proud of, and a real republic.

“This was a vision of a real republic: of life and language, ideals and experience, which has a ring of authenticity which we need now as we go forward [...] I saw, and felt and feel, the pain of the Irish people.

“I love our shared Ireland, and its core decencies.. I love its celebration of the endless possibilities of our people.

He said Ireland had moved away from “individualism” and urged people to respond collectively to acknowledge the shared problems of unemployment, mortgage distress, and exclusion.

“The necesary transformation of which I speak... is built on turning creative possibilities into living realities for all our people. And I believe - and this was the wonderful thing about going around the country so often - that that transformation has already begun.

“Good people have commenced a journey to a version of Irishness of which we can be proud.”

Known affectionately all over Ireland as Michael D, the Labour Party veteran’s achievements include establishing the Irish-language TV station TG4, and ending the section 31 censorship regime that barred Sinn Fein from the airwaves.

A former politics lecturer at University College Galway, his chief interests are poetry, the arts and the Irish language. He is also president of Galway United soccer club.

The first count in the presidential election completed yesterday evening gave the diminutive 70-year-old an already unassailable lead. It showed Higgins with a share of the vote of 39.6 per cent; Sean Gallagher 28.5 per cent; Martin McGuinness 13.7 per cent; Gay Mitchell 6.4 per cent; David Norris 6.2 per cent; Dana Rosemary Scallon 2.9 per cent; and Mary Davis 2.8 per cent.

Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness were eliminated together in the final count, although Higgins’s victory had in reality been assured since the first hours of counting on Friday morning.

Mr Higgins was the leading candidate in 35 constituencies; Mr Gallagher was ahead in seven and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness in one, Donegal North-East.

A Red C poll conducted on the day of the election showed a significant shift in support from Mr Gallagher to Mr Higgins after the final television debate on Monday night, when Mr McGuinness revealed Gallagher’s involvement in fundraising for the disgraced Fianna Fail party.

Speaking on Irish radio, Mr McGuinness admitted the significance of the incident flowed more from Gallagher’s reaction than from his own comments. However, he believed the incident was a defining moment in the campaign.

Mr McGuinness took 13.7pc on the first count -- up almost 4pc on where the party stood in the February general election, although lower than the 19pc support the party has enjoyed in recent polls.

Mr McGuinness said the future was bright for the party in the 26 Counties. “I think it’s fantastic that we’re continuing to build for the future,” he said. “We are moving forward in a very decisive way.”

The Derry-based politician will now return to the post of Six-County Deputy First Minister post, from which he temporarily stepped down. A post-mortem is due to take placde next week into an election which had presented an opportunity for Sinn Fein multiply its support across the 26 Counties.

Mr McGuinness, speaking from the podium at the result declaration at Dublin Castle, praised his campaign team for their “tremendous work” and also paid tribute to his family for their support.

He said it was a “real honour” to contest the election, which he said had been the “experience of a lifetime” and “a real eye-opener”. He expressed thanks and appreciation to the over a quarter million people who voted for him.

Higgins would make a very fine president, he said, and had “a great intellectual capacity and a huge heart”. He said he looked forward to working with him in the peace process and in his capacity as Deputy First Minister.

“The work of reconcilaition has begun on this island,” he added.

Discussing the election result with the media, Donegal North-East TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn said he believed middle of the road voters were “spooked” away from Sinn Fein by the “ferocious” anti-republican media campaign.

“I think middle ground didn’t reject Sinn Fein, I think they were spooked by the idea that the president would be faced with endless controversy from a section of the Irish media,” he said.

In further good news for the Labour party, its candidate Patrick Nulty was declared elected in the by-election in the early hours of this morning. The by-election went to a fifth count following the elimination of Socialist Party candidate Ruth Coppinger on a recount.

Counting in Thursday’s two referendums is now underway. There are rumours of “overwhelming” no votes on the referendum on strengthening powers for parliamentary inquiries in some parts of Dublin and Cork, while some rural areas area said to be more finely balanced or predominately in favour. The result could be a close call, with pundits currently predicting a 54% ‘No’ vote.

The other referendum, to allow cuts to judges’ pay, is expected to pass by a substantial margin.

The following is detailed result of the first and final counts in the Presidential election:

FIRST COUNT

- Higgins, Michael D: 701,101 (39.6 per cent)
- Gallagher, Sean: 504,964 (28.5 per cent)
- McGuinness, Martin: 243,030 (13.7 per cent)
- Mitchell, Gay: 113,321 (6.4 per cent)
- Norris, David: 109,469 (6.2 per cent)
- Scallon, Dana Rosemary: 51,220 (2.9 per cent)
- Davis, Mary: 48,657 (2.7 per cent)

FOURTH COUNT

- Higgins, Michael D: 1,007,104 (56.5 per cent)
- Gallagher, Sean: 628,114 (35.4 per cent)

© 2011 Irish Republican News