Pearse Doherty says Sinn Féin mismanaged Donegal vote

TD believes given party’s percentage of vote Pádraig Mac Lochlainn should have kept seat

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said the party should have sougt a recount of the vote in Donegal after Gary Doherty was eliminated. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said the party should have sougt a recount of the vote in Donegal after Gary Doherty was eliminated. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has admitted the party mismanaged its vote in Donegal, and that they should have sought a full recount when Gary Doherty was eliminated.

The party’s outgoing TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn was just pipped by Independent Thomas Pringle for the last seat at the count at the Aura Centre in Letterkenny last Sunday night.

Fianna Fáil took two seats in the constituency through Charlie McConalogue and Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher.

Mr McConalogue, from Inishowen, topped the poll and was elected on the first count on Saturday. Mr Gallagher and Minister of State at the Department of the Gaeltacht Joe McHugh for Fine Gael were elected on Sunday on the 11th count.

Mr Doherty was elected on the eighth count.

In an interview today with RTÉ’s Radio na Gaeltachta, Mr Doherty conceded Mr Mac Lochlainn might have had better chance had the party not followed the three-candidate strategy.

“We have to ask ourselves questions about what we should do for the next election, can we divide up the county better, to manage the vote better,” he said.

The TD said internal party opinion polls had shown Mr Mac Lochlainn’s vote was low, and that he himself would be getting a lot of votes in Inishowen and Letterkenny.

“We had known for a while . . . the opinion polls we had done ourselves told us that Pádraig Mac Lochlainn’s vote was low, but we didn’t realise that Fianna Fáil’s vote would be so high. So, two things happened there, Fianna Fáil’s vote grew and took votes from Pádraig. At the end of the day, with the amount of votes we got, we should have taken two seats.”

In the interview, he said Fine Gael had big problems in Donegal and Dinny McGinley would not have kept his seat had he been standing for election.

“It’s clear that Fine Gael’s vote went to Fianna Fáil. Dinny McGinley hasn’t lost his seat since he first took it, so maybe it was a good thing that he wasn’t standing, because there’s no doubt [that he would have lost it] . . . they [Fine Gael] didn’t have a second seat. They were lucky to get one.”

He said Sinn Féin would be examining its performance in the election next week.