Elections 2014: Labour woe continues with initial European results

Sinn Féin candidate Lynn Boylan elected in Dublin

Lynn Boylan has topped the poll for Dublin in the European election count at the RDS. The Irish Times was there to follow the actio. Video: Darragh Bambrick

Mon, May 26, 2014, 00:16

Sinn Féin is continuing its strong performance at the polls this weekend with the party’s Dublin candidate Lynn Boylan comfortably elected after the third count in the European elections.

Speaking a short time ago, she said the vote showed the electorate is looking to send a candidate to Europe that would not be part of a “cosy consensus”.

Voting finished around Europe at 10pm, so initial results from the Irish constituencies can now be announced. Counting in the South and Midlands North West constituencies were slow however and have concluded for the night without the results of the first count. They will resume tomorrow at 9am.

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After three counts in Dublin, Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes is in second place and looks likely to take a seat. The third seat will be a battle between the Green Party’s Eamon Ryan and Fianna Fáil’s Mary Fitzpatrick with just a couple of hundred votes separating them.

The Labour Party’s Emer Costello has just been eliminated and her votes will now be transferred.

It has been a torrid election for the Government and tallies in the other constituencies suggest any respite for the Coalition parties after the Local election meltdown is likely to be confined to Fine Gael.

The Labour Party in particular is reeling from the sharp drop in its vote in the Local elections with one backbencher calling for the resignation of the entire Labour frontbench with the exception of Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin.

Early tallies in the other European constituencies indicate the European elections will also be difficult for Labour.

In the South Brian Crowley of Fianna Fáil is expected to top the poll comfortably. Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada and Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly are expected to win two of the other seats. Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune and Simon Harris are competing for the last seat.

In Midlands North West, Independent candidate Luke Ming Flanagan looks a strong favourite to win a seat alongside Fine Gael’s Mairéad McGuinness. Some four candidates will be in contention for the final two seats.

Meanwhile, in the local elections, the Government parties are still suffering major losses with some 808 out of the 949 seats filled. Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Independents, and Others are all capitalising on the seats being lost by Fine Gael and Labour.

Fianna Fáil will become the largest political party in the State at local level when all seats have been filled. As it stands, the party holds 224 seats. Independents/Others have 205 seats, Fine Gael are on 192, while Sinn Féin and the Labour Party have 141 and 46 respectively.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the elections marked “a milestone in the renewal of the party”.

The party’s justice spokesman Niall Collins said Fianna Fail had gained “right across the country and particularly in Dublin”.

He added: “This election will be the platform for us into the next General Election and is an opportunity to identify our Dáil candidates.”

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald meanwhile said it had “become clear people are seeking a political alternative - a voice that champions their interest and needs fearlessly - and in increasing numbers people see Sinn Féin as that vehicle”.

She said it would be “utterly pointless” to enter Government for the sake of power. “We’re committed to social change and equality,” she said. “That’s not just rhetoric for us - that’s who we are.”

With the Labour Party’s percentage of first preference votes still polling in the single digits, Taoiseach Enda Kenny defended the record of Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and said “it was Tánaiste Gilmore who led the charge for the restoration of the integrity of Ireland abroad”.

Mr Gilmore has himself insisted he will remain in charge. He said the people had “sent a very clear message to the Government and indeed the Labour Party” but said there was “no question” over his leadership.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said Mr Gilmore still had her “confidence”. Asked if she might lead a heave against him however, she said she was “not going to call anything like that until we get the results in”.

Labour backbenchers have also been making it known they are alarmed at the steep drop in support for the party. Deputy Michael McNamara has called for the resignation of the entire Labour Party frontbench with the exception of Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin. “Our frontbench has failed the party - our backbench cannot fail it now,” he said.

Counting in the two byelections finished yesterday, and Socialist Party candidate Ruth Coppinger won the seat in Dublin West while Fine Gael’s Gabrielle McFadden claimed the seat in Longford-Westmeath.

Turnout nationally stood at 50.8 per cent.