Business relief at Sinn Féin’s election woes

Ibec concerned that rise of Independents could lead to disparate Opposition lacking cohesion to provide ‘robust engagement on the legislative process’

A glum-looking Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin leader, at the election count in the RDS in the past week. The party secured just 12 per cent of the votes in the local elections. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Many senior figures in Irish business breathed a sigh of relief at Sinn Féin’s poor showing in the local elections last week, after four years of consistent poll performances suggesting the party would lead the next government.

“We like certainty and it was good to see the centre ground holding,” one senior chief executive told Cantillon this week.

Of course, with an election still potentially up to nine months away, Sinn Féin has time to turn around the election setbacks, with the party securing just under 12 per cent of the vote in the locals. But Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil might be tempted to go early to capitalise on their solid performances last week. The Green Party might be less enthusiastic given it lost half its council seats and both of its European ones.

Sinn Féin had been on a charm offensive with US multinationals invested here and local businesses (including a briefing last month with Davy) to affirm its commitment to our corporate tax rate, and to pursuing commonsense policies to maintain the Irish economic growth story. This makes sense given that a strong Irish economy will be key to paying for a United Ireland, Sinn Féin’s number one goal.


Independents were the other winners from the locals, securing 28 per cent of the vote. If these voting patterns were repeated in the general election, the Opposition benches would have a disparate look to them.

That scenario doesn’t sit well with Danny McCoy, chief executive of employers group Ibec. When asked for a view on the election landscape, he cited the need for a “cohesive opposition in order to provide robust engagement on the legislative process”.

“Political fragmentation makes it more challenging for both the Oireachtas committee processes and for effective stakeholder input to, and scrutiny of, new legislation,” he added.