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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 30, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

    Who’s sorry now?

    Mary Minihan

    When the result of an election becomes obvious early on the day of the count, the lower-polling candidates had better watch out lest they become the talking point of the day. Step forward Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell.

    His no-show at the final declaration in Dublin Castle on Saturday evening was widely denounced as ‘bad form’. It fell to Taoiseach Enda Kenny to thank Mr Mitchell’s campaign team members for their hard work.

    No-one in the party wants to publicly kick a man who is already down, but many are expressing disgust that Mr Mitchell did not stand on the platform with the other defeated candidates.  

    The unwritten protocol of election counts dictates that the unsuccessful candidates present themselves to hear the winner’s victory speech, and Mr Mitchell, a politician of many years experience, knows that to be so.

    Despite this, he told the Six One RTE news that criticism of his non-attendance was “nit-picking”, given that he had already presented himself for the first count on Friday. He also correctly said his integrity had never been called into account, adding that he was “extremely tired”.

    Expect further recriminations within Fine Gael – not a party noted for doing its business in private - where emotions currently range from “disappointed” to “going beserk”. One senior source said: “It was a big mistake. It looked bad. I presume he’s sorry now.”

    Independent candidate Mary Davis, who polled lowest of all seven candidates, adopted a much more contrite tone. Like Mr Mitchell, she attended the first count on Friday but said she had made a mistake by not turning up on Saturday and felt bad about it subsequently. “I was genuinely unaware of the protocol or my duty to be there. I thought Saturday was the stage for Michael D, Sabina and their family. I didn’t realise others would be there,” Ms Davis said.

    “It was only later when I saw it on the news I thought, gosh, I should’ve been there. I did feel bad about it. It was a total mistake on my part rather than a feeling that I didn’t want to be there.”

    • deanh says:

      Well he turned up at the first count declaration and offered the President elect his congratulations. What more do you want? Suppose a tired and emotional ( after campaign and extended count naturally) pol. cor. has a blog to write

    • Elpenor says:

      I reiterate by saying I don’t want to kick a man when he’s down but Mitchell showed poor form throughout the campaign. Failing to show up at the youth presidential debate for me was on a par with his failure to attend the final declaration, Mary Davis was at the youth debate, she was also less familiar with political protocol than Mitchell, so her absence from the final declaration was more forgivable. Gallagher was magnanimous in defeat. Poor old David Norris who put every last penny into his campaign stood graciously behind Michael D as he gave his speech, Norris had a much tougher campaign than Mitchell and fought it without party support nor finance.

    • Jules says:

      I’d forgive Gay Mitchell for this little breach of protocol at the end of a very long-drawn-out, very trying campaign, which for some of the candidates was an extremely wounding experience, not least psychologically, I’d imagine. Mr Mitchell strikes me as a very honest and sincere man who talks straight and shoots from the hip. His campaign was handled badly. The man was let down. When he says he was extremely tired, I can well believe it. I would say have a good rest Gay Mitchell. You earned it, and your honesty was refreshing. I have no doubt you will get over this hiccup in your career.

      Sorry, can’t remember the other candidate who didn’t show up.

    • Jules says:

      ps — Didn’t vote for FG/Gay Mitchell btw……….Since one would be inclined/orientated towards the other side in the historical divide this country, which I have to say would be no impediment whatsoever, if someone of character and ability managed to “float my vote.”
      But the fact is, I really hate to see a man being mauled by the media. Because of the triviality, for example, that a man’s name “Gay” rhymes with the shade “grey” – which is associated with drabness – a dreary complexion was put (right from the start) on a man that as far as I can gather is a man of high principles and vision. Impetuosity, also, in my opinion, is not a bad trait and often betrays an honest character, which I would certainly prefer to a media savvy calculated response to certain types of questioning by any kind of a cute hoor.

    • Frank Barr says:

      Fine Gael’s problem started in a familiar fashion, they attempted to introduce a blow-in, something they regularly do either nationally or within constituencies. It always antagonises and usually fails but they keep doing it. Gay Mitchell only ran and was selected to stop Pat Cox. The disaster started and finished there.
      Personally i dont think Cox would have been elected with his uncritical pro-EU credentials and an opinion, held by many, that he is a trophy seeker. With the right candidate FG surely should have been in with their best chance ever. In doing what they did and compounded by the disgraceful behaviour of Alan Shatter regarding the 30th referendum, Fine Gael approaching an horrendous budget, command less authority both moral and actual. Amateur politics!

    • Treasa Quinn says:

      Im not at all surprised at the behaviour of Gay Mitchell, He behaved like a spoiled child all the way through this campaign. Having little tantrums when he didnt get his own way. The people saw the real Gay and they didnt like what they saw.

    • Keith says:

      There normally aren’t “victory speeches” at Dublin counts, so I’d allow him a little flexibility on that side. But he still should have been there.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Maybe now FG has had its reality check it might start to get real and begin delivering the scale of reform people want starting with political pay, pensions and perks.

    • MiniHaHa says:

      re Comment @ 8 Des Fitz
      Is this a record? That has to be the shortest comment ever from Des Fitz..!

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