Irish Republican News · May 25, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Small parties suffer as FF set to retain power

The 26-County general election now seems almost certain to return Fianna Fail’s Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach, who may do so without the need to again form a coalition with the decimated Progressive Democrats.

So far Fianna Fail has 24 seats, Fine Gael has five, the Labour Party has three and the other parties have one seat each.

Pundits are now suggesting Fianna Fail can secure a majority with the gain of about three seats and the support of some like-minded independents.

However, the leader of the main opposition party, Enda Kenny of Fine Gael, has still not ruled out the possibility of his party forming a government.

Arriving at the count centre in Castlebar, Mr Kenny said that on the basis of the initial reports it looks like Fine Gael is the only party to have made substantial gains.

“Fine Gael’s seats will be up by 60% if its number of seats is over 50, which is very encouraging and heartening after a campaign that was the most professional ever run by the party”, he said.

He said that you cannot argue with the decision of the people, and that the candidates have a very long night ahead of them.

Elsewhere, in Dublin South-East, Tanaiste Michael McDowell appears unlikely to hold his seat, leaving the Progressive Democrats with just two seats. The Socialist Party lost its sole representative from the Dail when Joe Higgins was eliminated in Dublin West.

The Green Party and Labour have suffered surprise losses, while former Fine Gael Minister Michael Lowry, previously linked to a corruption scandal, has returned to the Dail in Tipperary North as an independent.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams expressed disappointment with his party’s performance, particularly in Dublin, admitting candidates were “squeezed” in the battle between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

The party has lost a seat in Dublin South-West, which may yet be offset by a gain in Donegal North-East.

Arriving at the RDS in Dublin shortly after 5.30pm, Gerry Adams joined Sinn Féin MEP and candidate in Dublin Central Mary Lou McDonald outside to speak to media.

“I think our people fought a very good campaign. We were clearly squeezed in the surge for Fianna Fail. The people decided I think only in the last maybe week or so who they wanted for Taoiseach and they wanted Bertie Ahern for Taoiseach,” Mr Adams said.

“We got squeezed in the contest between the two big parties and the candidates for Taoiseach. But you know we’re long-term political activists, we have a big political project, we’ll be here tomorrow.”

Mr Ahern said he was particularly disappointed for Sean Crowe, the sitting TD in Dublin South West, who has been edged out for the last seat by Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes.

“Fianna Fail did what they do best so I want to congratulate them on that also, but you know, we’re a bit philosophical about this. We still have big issues to be sorted out. The issues which we tried to get debates on like public services, the economy serving the people, a united Ireland, the equality agenda, all those issues still need sorted out and we’ll be there to sort them out.

“I lost a seat myself in west Belfast and we came back and we’ll come back again.”

Elsewhere, Sinn Féin Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain was elected on the first count in Cavan-Monaghan, while Martin Ferris is set to be returned in North Kerry. Arthur Morgan should hold on in Louth, while Aengus O Snodaigh is still in a tight race for his seat in Dublin South-Central.

The party’s MEP, Mary Lou McDonald, said a result was still awaited in her Dublin Central constituency, although she now seems unlikely to win the seat she was tipped to take. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is now being tipped to bring home running-mate Cyprian Brady in his home constituency.

“Sinn Féin ran a great campaign,” she said.

“The issues that were the big issues yesterday are still the big issues today. We said it very clearly, it’s about housing, health, education, about the peace process. So obviously, the competition when it came down to it was about who the people wanted for taoiseach. And the people overwhelmingly made it clear that that person is Bertie Ahern.

“We got squeezed in the contest between the two big parties and the candidates for taoiseach. But you know we’re long-term political activists, we have a big political project, we’ll be here tomorrow.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News