“Something profound has happened in the people’s attitudes to politics,” said Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, as results came in across the 26 Counties on Saturday.
The party made incredible gains on city councils in Dublin and Cork, and is set to be the dominant party on both councils. In Limerick and Waterford,and in towns and rural areas across the 26 Counties, the party doubled and tripled its representation or broke entirely new ground.
There was also a huge increase in support for independent candidates and the small left-wing parties. With 292 out of 949 seats filled by the end of counting on Saturday night, Sinn Fein won 81, Independents and Others) 77, Fianna Fail 76, Fine Gael 47, and Labour 11.
After months of fractious debates and contentious media coverage, the polls were largely borne out, although the result has still deeply shocked the political establishment. In the next Dublin parliament, Sinn Fein will now almost certainly be on a par with the two traditional conservative parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael -- a radical rebalancing of politics in the 26 County state, which for years treated Sinn Fein as an irrelevant ‘other’.
The question now is how these three parties with a historic distaste for each other can form a government after the next general election in 2016, and what kind of coalition, if any, can emerge.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has said the day marked a “step change in politics”. Speaking at the Dublin West by-election count in Citywest this evening, where Paul Donnelly came very close to winning a seat, he said that the party was open to the possibility of coalition government.
He said: “We need two things, one is to be in government - a mandate - the other one is an agreed programme for government. The second could be more challenging than the first. The other parties are now wedded to conservatism, austerity.”
He said that the party wants to see a “realignment of politics” which he hopes would be “accelerated after this election”.
He said he did not know if his recent arrest and interrogation by the PSNI had an impact on the Sinn Fein result.
Mr Adams said: “What we do know is it galvanised our own activists and I would like to think that the way that we responded to those events was positive and that that may have helped.”
Mr Adams said that he heard some members of the coalition condescendingly dismissing Sinn Fein’s gains as “the people giving us a scolding”.
He says what has happened is that the people have given ‘profound notice that that want to quit this type of politics”.
“We’re the largest party in Derry, in Belfast, in Mid-Ulster and perhaps now in Dublin and Meath,” he said, also referring to results in separate elections in the north of the Ireland.
“I keep stressing in my interviews, we want to use our mandate wisely, people are hurting. It’s what I’m hearing when I talk to people. I would appeal to people who seek change. I’d appeal to people to join the party, we’re here to build a democratic republican party across the island of Ireland,” he said.
Adams thanked those who had worked to deliver the result for Sinn Fein, but admitted there wasn’t the “resources, infrastructure or capacity” to run the number of candidates or scale of campaign he would have wanted. However, he said Sinn Fein will continue to build from their result.
“I think we have been mandated to change, this is a change of the political landscape in this state. Sinn Fein is here and Sinn Fein is here to stay,” he said.
Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said he accepted the public’s “frustration and anger” at coalition policy was being reflected in the poll results. Mr Kenny said “it’s not a good day” for his government and noted it had been an especially “hard day” for Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore, whose party has been obliterated at local and European level.
He said the electorate had said: “you need to do better”. “We will redouble our efforts over the next two years to prove politics can actually work,” he added.
“And the end of the day it’s all about our people. They have spoken yesterday (and) the consequences of their decisions will continue for the next couple of years.”
The Labour Party, founded by Easter Rising martyr James Connolly, has been virtually wiped out at national and local level. However, party leader Eamon Gilmore has defied calls for his resignation, although accepting a need for a “re-evaluation”.
LITTLE CHANGE IN NORTH
Meanwhile, counting has concluded in the Six Counties local elections, where Sinn Fein’s support has held up amid a small decline in the nationalist vote. Notable successes for the party on Saturday evening was the success of Niall O Donnghaile in holding onto a seat in a redrawn east Belfast ward, and in securing five of the six council seats in the Collin ward, at the expense of Maire Drumm of rival socialist republican party eirigi.
There were cavalcades in Derry earlier following confirmation of the election onto the Derry-Strabane council of Gary Donnelly, of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement. Mr Donnelly, a prominent member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement who stood as an Independent candidate, headed the poll in the Moor District Electoral Area (DEA). and was elected after the first count.
Republican socialist Paul Gallagher was also elected onto the same council from Strabane, after standing as an independent. Gallagher very narrowly failed to win a seat last time out after contesting the same ward for the Irish Republican Socialist Party last time out.
The SDLP suffered a notable decline in its vote, and its difficulties were reflected in a bruising exchange among party members at Templemore Sports Complex on Saturday morning. The two men involved in the fracas had to be escorted from the building by security.
Meanwhile, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has revealed that his party is in discussions about an electoral pact with the Ulster Unionist Party ahead of next year’s Westminster and Stormont elections.
Of all the Six County parties, the DUP suffered the worst decline in its vote. “That’s because of the splintering of the unionist vote and that becomes more critical when you get to an Assembly election,” he said, referring to increased competition from Jim Allister’s TUV and the UKIP.
Counting is continuing in the 26 Counties tomorrow morning, and from Monday morning north of the border.
RESULTS: SIX COUNTIES
The following is the final result of the local elections in the North, with a comparison to the 2011 result.
DUP (130 seats) 23.1% (-4.1%)
Sinn Fein (105 seats) 24.1% (-0.7%)
UUP (88 seats) 16.1% (+0.9%)
SDLP (66 seats) 13.6% (-1.4%)
Others (41 seats) 16.5% (+6.1%)
Alliance (32 seats) 6.7% (-0.7%)
The following is a final list of SF and other republican candidates elected (SF, unless otherwise indicated):
Mairtin O Muilleoir, Steven Corr, Janice Austin, Emma Groves, Arder Carson, Ciaran Beattie, Deirdre Hargey, Mary Ellen Campbell, David Bell, Stephen Magennis, Charlene O’Hara, Matt Garrett, Bill Groves, Mary McConville, Jim McVeigh, Mary Clarke, JJ Magee, Gerry McCabe, Niall O Donnghaile
Derry and Strabane
Sandra Duffy, Tony Hassan, Elisha McCallion, Ruairi McHugh, Kieran McGuire, Maoliosa McHugh, Paul Fleming, Mickey Cooper, Eric McGinley, Karina Carlin, Dan Kelly, Brian Mcmahon, Kevin Campbell, Patricia Logue, Colly Kelly, Christopher Jackson, Gary Donnelly (Ind. Rep.), Paul ‘Gags’ Gallagher (Ind. Rep. Soc.)
Fermanagh and Omagh
Tommy Maguire, Debbie Coyle, Thomas O’Reilly, Brian McCaffrey, Sheamus Greene, John Feely, Barry Vincent Doherty, Anthony Feely, Sean Clarke, Anne Marie Fitzgerald, Sean Donnelly, Barry Kevin McNally , Sorcha McAnespy, Marty McColgan, Glenn Gerard Campbell, Frankie Jerome Donnelly, Stephen McCann
Sean McPeake, Kate McEldowney, Brian McGuigan, Phelim Gildernew, Sean McGuigan, Cathal Mallaghan, John Fitzgerald McNamee, Gavin Bell, Dominic Joseph Molloy, Sean Clarke, Darren Oliver Totten, Caoimhe O’Neill, Catherine Elattar, Peter Joseph Bateson, Linda Dillon, Joe O’Neill, Ronan Paul McGinley, Mickey Gillespie, Barry Monteith (Ind. Rep.)
Newry, Mourne and Down
Sinead Ennis , Mickey Ruane, Naomi Bailie, Charlie Casey, Liz Kimmins, Valerie Harte, Stephen Burns, Pol O Gribin, Terry Hearty, Mickey Larkin, Roisin Mulgrew, Barra O Muiri, Willie Clarke, Sean Doran, Davy Hyland (Ind. Rep.)
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon
Keating Garath, Darren McNally, Brendan Curran, Fergal Lennon, Maire Cairns, Keith Haughian, Catherine Seeley, Gemma McKenna
Causeway Coast and Glens
Philip McGuigan, Sean McGlinchey, Dermot Nicholl, Tony McCaul, Brenda Chivers, Cara McShane, Kieran James Mulholland
Mid And East Antrim
Hardy Patrice, Paul Maguire, James McKeown
Newtownabbey and Antrim
Anne-Marie Logue, Henry John Cushinan, Michael Goodman
RESULTS: 26 COUNTIES
The following is an up-to-date list of SF and other republican candidates elected to local councils in the 26 Counties so far (SF, unless otherwise indicated), followed by the results of the two by-elections also held on Friday.
Carlow County Council - John Cassin
Cavan County Council - Noel Connell, Damien Brady
Cork County Council - Donnchadh O Laoghaire, Rachael McCarthy, Kieran McCarthy
Cork City - Thomas Gould, Stephen Cunningham, Mick Nugent, Fiona Kerins, Chris O’Leary, Henry Cremin
Dublin City Council - Daithi Doolan, Cathleen Carney Boud, Noeleen Reilly, Micheal MacDonncha, Larry O’Toole, Denise Mitchell, Anthony Connaghan, Emma Murphy, Seamus McGrattan, Criona Ni Dhalaigh, Ray McHugh, Janice Boylan, Chris Andrews
Fingal County Council - Natalie Tracey, Daire Ni Laoi, Paul Donnelly, Edmund Lukusa, Philip Lynam
Galway City Council - Mairead Farrell
Galway County Council - Dermot Connolly
Kerry County Council - Robert Beasley, Toireasa Ferris, Pa Daly
Kildare County Council - Reada Cronin, Sorcha O’Neill
Laois County Council - Aidean Mullins, Caroline Dwayne Stanley
Leitrim County Council - Brendan Barry, Padraig Fallon
Limerick City and County Council Seighin O Ceallaigh, Maurice Quinlivan, Lisa Marie Sheehy
Louth County Council - Pearse McGeough, Imelda Munster, Edel Corrigan, Tomas Sharkey
Mayo County Council - Therese Ruane
Meath County Council - Darren O’Rourke, Eimer Ferguson, Joe Reilly, Caroline Lynch
Monaghan County Council - Matt Carthy, Noel Keelan, Brian McKenna
Offaly County Council - Martin O’Reilly, Brendan Killeavy
Sligo County Council - Sean MacManus
South Dublin County Council - Eoin O’Broin, Jonathan Graham, Danny O’Brien, Maire Devine, Brendan Ferron, Brendan Ferron, Cathal King, Louise Dunne, Fintan Warfield, Sarah Holland
Tipperary County Council - David Dunne, Martin Browne
Waterford City and County Council - Pat Fitzgerald, John Hearne
Westmeath County Council - Una D’arcy, Sorcha Clarke
Wexford County Council - Johnny Mythen, Anthony Kelly
Wicklow - Gerry O’Neill, John Snell
RESULT: DUBLIN WEST
Paul Donnelly (SF) 6,056 (Eliminated 5th count)
Ruth Coppinger (Socialist) 5,977 (Elected)
David McGuinness (FF) 5,053 (Eliminated 6th count)
David Hall (Ind.) 3,803 (Eliminated 4th count)
Eamonn Coghlan (FG) 3,715 (Eliminated 3rd count)
Roderic O’Gorman (Green) 1,856 (Eliminated 2nd count)
Lorraine Mulligan (Labour) 1,505 (Eliminated 2nd count)
Gabrielle McFadden (FG) 12,365 (Elected)
Aengus O’Rourke (FF) 8,910 (Eliminated 7th count)
Paul Hogan (SF) 7,548 (Eliminated 6th count)
Kevin Moran (Ind.) 5,629 (Eliminated 5th count)
James Morgan (Ind.) 5,959 (Eliminated 4th count)
Brian Fagan (Ind.) 4,195 (Eliminated 3rd count)
Denis Leonard (Labour) 3,290 (Eliminated 2nd count)