Election 2016: Fine Gael takes final two Wexford seats

Martin calls for parties to agree to reforms before talks on forming a new government


There was some good news for Fine Gael on Monday after a difficult weekend when two of its candidates were elected to the two last seats in Wexford.

Michael D’Arcy, a Senator, and Paul Kehoe, the Government Chief Whip, took the last two seats.

The process of rechecking, which began at 10am, involved count staff examining only the votes of Mr Kehoe and Johnny Mythen (Sinn Féin).

Mr Mythern had called for a recount on Sunday after he emerged just 52 votes behind Mr Kehoe.

The result in Wexford means Fine Gael now has 49 seats, ahead of Fianna Fáil on 43 and leaves just four counts to be completed.

Recounts are underway in Longford-Westmeath, Dublin Bay North and Dublin South Central.

In Dublin South West, an examination of the ballot papers began at noon at the request of Fine Gael after Independent Katherine Zappone was elected on Sunday on the 16th count after a late surge ahead of Fine Gael’s Anne-Marie Dermody.

With attention now turning to possible coalition options Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin called for all parties to agree to a series of Dáil reforms before any talks begin on forming a new government.

In a statement on Monday Mr Martin said all parties should be given two weeks to agree reforms before any talks on a possible new coalition began.

Mr Martin also called for limits to be placed on the power of the government and greater oversight of new legislation and budgets.

Earlier former taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern said he does not believe a new government can be formed before Easter.

Discussing the challenge of forming a new government based on the election results from the weekend Mr Ahern said there was no obvious or easy combination at the moment.

He said there was “no way” that a government would be in place by Easter and said the electorate needed to be “patient and let this play out the way it has to”.

Mr Ahern said there was a “strong possibility” Mr Martin could get enough votes to become Taoiseach of the next government.

Mr Ahern added it would be extremely difficult for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to create a coalition for the 32nd Dáil.

The former taoiseach appeared to rule out another election this year. “Politicians are exhausted, they’ve spent a lot of money, their workers have taken leave, they won’t want a 2016 election. Some way will be found to make sure it’s not 2016,” he told RTE’s Sean O’Rourke programme.

Mr Ahern said the outgoing Government had been overwhelmingly rejected and the result meant there were only two possible government combinations.

“It’ll come down to a combination that there are a group of parties, maybe two parties, but a group of parties who are prepared to support a Taoiseach. I think that will happen. That government will be a minority government clearly because it won’t have the numbers but it’ll have sufficient support from outside.

“Or you’ll have a group of parties that will come together. I think you could have Independent Alliance going with either Fianna Fáil or you could have Fine Gael going with Fianna Fáil and Independent Alliance.

Appetite for election

Independent Michael Healy-Rae said he did not believe the public had “an appetite for another election”. Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Mr Healy-Rae said it was up to everybody to “use their intelligence, come together, form and government and do what the people want us to do”.

“I believe people will just have to act sensibly, responsibly and stop talking about who they won’t form a government with and instead start thinking seriously about who they will form a government with,” said Mr Healy-Rae who topped the poll in Kerry with 20,378 first preference votes, the highest received by any candidate in the election. His surplus votes brought his brother Danny in on the second count.

Asked who he would vote for as Taoiseach on March 10, Mr Healy Rae said he would study the situation and that any decision he or his brother took would “first of all always be in the best interests of the people of Co Kerry and secondly in the interest of the country.”

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher, who was elected to Cork North-Central at the weekend, said on Monday it was “highly unlikely” his party would be in a position to support a Fine Gael government.

Mr Kelleher said it was now incumbent on those on the other side to facilitate the formation of the next government, told Newstalk radio on Monday.

“Clearly in the first instance on March 10th we will obviously be nominating Micheál Martin as Taoiseach to form a government and we’ll be looking for as much support for that proposition,” said Mr Kelleher.

“We have to start thinking in an imaginative way to address what has happened in terms of the results of the election.

Mr Kelleher said Fianna Fáil would consider all options on “a case-by-case basis” in creating the next government including independents, Labour and Social Democrats.

‘Immovable positions’

Also speaking on RTÉ Radio, Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan, who was re-elected on Saturday, said his party would discuss the formation of the next government with Labour “out of courtesy”, before looking across the broad spectrum of the Dáil for potential partners.

Mr Flanagan failed to confirm whether Fine Gael would discuss the new government with Fianna Fáil, but warned that “immovable positions will not resolve the crisis and will result in an early return to the polls”.

“Matters are most uncertain, we are in a state of flux,” said Mr Flanagan. “In spite of the seismic shift that was delivered by the electorate, the two main parties of the past 80 years are still the two main parties with almost 100 seats between them.”