Fianna Fail set to take just six seats

 

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL:FIANNA FÁIL faced the likelihood last night that it would only have half a dozen of Dublin City Council’s 52 seats.

The largest party on the council going in to the 2004 local elections, it dropped from 20 of the 52 council seats to just 12 at that election.

While the result in Cabra-Glasnevin was not yet declared last night, the most the party could get was seven seats. However, Maurice Ahern, brother of the former taoiseach, conceded defeat for the fifth and final seat there last night while a recount was still in progress.

This was in stark contrast to the success of his ward colleague, Mary Fitzpatrick, whose performance was remarkable in what was an otherwise disastrous day for her party.

Coming close to midnight on Saturday, she was the only Fianna Fáil councillor elected; Tom Brabazon squeezed in just before the hour, getting elected on the sixth count in Donaghmede.

Ms Fitzpatrick the only Fianna Fáil candidate to get elected on the first count with a massive 3,088 votes, well clear of the 2,837 quota. While the Cabra-Glasnevin ward was awaiting the recount, her victory was not in doubt.

The massive difference between Ms Fitzpatrick’s result and that of Mr Ahern could in part be a reaction to perceived unfairness in Ms Fitzpatrick’s treatment by the “Ahern machine”.

The Ardagh siblings, sitting councillor Charlie and newcomer Catherine – children of TD Seán Ardagh – both failed to take seats, leaving Crumlin-Kimmage and South West Inner City with no Fianna Fáil representatives.

The party has also lost its sitting councillors, Sarah Ryan, Eoin Ryan’s daughter in South East Inner City, and the long-serving Tom Stafford in North Inner City, leaving these wards also without any Fianna Fáil councillors.

The big victors in 2004 and again this time in terms of overall numbers is Labour. It was the biggest party on the council with 15 seats; before the last ward was completed it already had 18 seats and was set to take one more.

Fine Gael has also done well: before the last ward it had already achieved 11 seats, the number it held on the last council, and looked likely to take two more.

The biggest success story has to be the gains by Independents who, if the two People Before Profit councillors are included, look set to bring their numbers on the council from four to eight.

Artist and former industrial school inmate Mannix Flynn took a seat in the South East Inner City.

Maureen O’Sullivan topped the poll in the North Inner City and will now be able to co-opt the candidate of her choice to the seat when she goes to the Dáil. In Cabra Glasnevin, Ciarán Perry, an Independent who narrowly missed out on a seat in 2004, took a seat on the sixth count which he looks set to keep after the recount.

The most exceptional of the Independent successes was that of unknown first-timer Damian O’Farrell in Clontarf. A protege of TD Finian McGrath, Mr O’Farrell topped the poll with the highest number of first preferences of any councillor with 4,194.

Sinn Féin has been the victim of the Independents’ success, and looked likely to fall from 10 seats to six, with a seventh seat from Séamus McGrattan a possibility.

The Green Party had no outgoing councillors and no new Greens took seats.