Labour can’t wait
One of Labour’s Dublin South-East TDs Kevin Humphreys, tallying at the RDS, summed up the feeling in his party’s camp today: ‘To win a byelection and the presidency when you’re in Government: spectacular!’
Of course neither result is even close to being confirmed, but Humphreys said some Labour people – of whom there were many in the RDS – were already thinking about going home at lunchtime. Michael D Higgins appears to be running away with the presidency, and he has Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness to thank for slaying the dragon (Sean Gallagher) and diverting transfers that were previously destined for the Independent candidate.
Labour’s candidate in the byelection, Patrick Nulty, is the frontrunner in Dublin West, although Fianna Fail will be very happy with its result in the constituency, where respect for the late Brian Lenihan has delivered a more than respectable result. Not since 1982 (Noel Tracey for Fianna Fail) has a Government candidate won a byelection. It hasn’t been a Labour person since Brendan Halligan in 1976, I believe.
Red T-shirts are everywhere in the RDS, and young Labour activists are hugging each other. It’s a bad day for Labour’s senior Government partner Fine Gael, of course. Presidential candidate Gay Mitchell is trailing badly. Not even ‘the Dubs’ are looking after their own, it seems. There are few Fine Gael big names at the RDS, although a uncharacteristically sombre looking Paschal Donohue is here. The party’s ever-professional tallymen are very quiet. Likewise in Dublin West, where the party candidate Eithne Loftus’ description of herself as the real Government candidate hasn’t worked.
Independent David Norris has by no means disgraced himself, while the women candidates, Independents Mary Davis and Dana, have sunk without trace.