O'Rourke's defeat a bitter blow for FF

 

ANALYSIS/Fianna Fáil: Fianna Fáil suffered a shock defeat when its deputy leader and Minister for Public Enterprise, Mrs O'Rourke, lost her seat in Westmeath, where she has been a TD since 1982.

Two Ministers of State were also among the eight sitting party TDs who suffered defeats - mostly to party colleagues.

The 65-year-old lost to her party running mate, the leader of the Seanad, Mr Donie Cassidy (56), the music promoter from the party's "country" brigade, who was a loyal supporter of former Taoiseach, Mr Albert Reynolds.

Mrs O'Rourke, who said afterwards "I'm not going away", was affected by the carve-up of the constituency between herself and Mr Cassidy. She said on RTÉ that "nobody would listen to me" about her concerns that there was only one seat for the party there.

The Taoiseach said yesterday that "she didn't lose her seat, she gave her seat away", in the division of the constituency canvass. Mrs O'Rourke is based in Athlone town and Mr Cassidy said his win was a victory for "rural" Westmeath. Other factors in her defeat included her role in the privatisation of Eircom and her lack of local presence because of her role as a member of Cabinet.

Two Ministers of State lost their seats. Mr Hugh Byrne (58), the Minister of State for Marine with responsibility for aquaculture and forestry, was defeated in Wexford. The Minister of State at the Department of Health, Dr Tom Moffatt (62), lost in Mayo.

The other FF candidates who lost their seats were: Ms Marian McGennis (48), who lost in Dublin South Central; Michael Kitt (52), who lost in Galway East; Brendan Kenneally (47), who lost in Waterford; John Dennehy (62), who was defeated in Cork South-Central; Brendan Daly (62), who lost in Clare; and Eddie Wade (54) who lost in Limerick East.