Doherty wins Donegal byelection


Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has been elected to the Dáil for Donegal South West, without reaching the quota in the byelection.

Mr Doherty was declared elected on the fourth count without reaching the quota at 6.42 pm this evening by returning officer Geraldine O’Connor.

This followed the distribution of Independent candidate Thomas Pringle’s votes with 1,709 out of 3,763 going to the Sinn Fein candidate.

Labour candidate Frank McBrearty was eliminated on the second count, ahead of Mr Pringle but he had the satisfaction of more than trebling his party’s share of the votes in the general election.,

The Fianna Fáil contender, Senator Brian O Domhnaill secured the second-highest number of first preferences but was passed out on the fourth count by councillor Barry O’Neill of Fine Gael.

In his victory speech at the count centre in Stranorlar, the newly elected deputy said: “This is an historic day and I’m absolutely blown away by the support of the people of Donegal South West.”

Commenting on the result, president of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams said there was a clear message from the byelection figures: “The Government should go.”

He added there was also a “lesson” for the Labour Party: “It was implicit in Labour’s message that they would form a government with Fine Gael: people rejected that.”

Tanaiste and Minister for Education Mary Coughlan said the announcement by the Green Party of its intention to withdraw from the Government had been a major distraction for the Fianna Fáil campaign.

“There was a certainty brought to the fact that there would be a general election in the New Year and many people in the party then changed their concentration away from a byelection to a general election and that’s to be expected.”

She added: “The Fianna Fáil party will now regroup and prepare for the general election where we hope to regain that seat.”

In a statement, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny congratulated the Sinn Féin candidate on his win and Cllr O’Neill on “a very creditable performance” for Fine Gael.

“What the country truly needs is to have the voices of all of its people heard through a General Election which would give a new government a mandate to address the current economic crisis,” Mr Kenny said.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore congratulated the winner and also praised Mr McBrearty for a “very encouraging” performance.

“The most significant aspect of this election is the collapse in support for Fianna Fáil which has seen its vote fall from 50 per cent to just over 20 per cent. If this pattern were to be repeated in a general election, Fianna Fáil would face political wipe-out,” Mr Gilmore said.