Dublin Bay North: Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin loses seat

Defeat means Labour facing uphill battle to retain speaking rights in the Dáil

There were emotional scenes at the RDS count today as Labour Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin lost his seat to Sinn Féin candidate Denise Mitchell in Dublin Bay North.

Independents Finian McGrath and Tommy Broughan, who had looked in difficulty over the weekend, made a comeback to retain their Dail membership in the closely fought five-seat constituency.

Of the three candidates, Mr Broughan was elected first, then Ms Mitchell and finally Mr McGrath, all three without reaching the 12,271 quota.

Mr Ó Ríordáin had tears in his eyes as he hugged campaign team members and there were tears among many of his supporters.


Party deputy leader and director of elections Alan Kelly, who was in the RDS with Mr Ó Ríordáin and his campaign team, left without speaking to reporters.

He and his wife Aine Kerr and family members posed for photos and joked with the media as they waited for the result to be announced.

Mr Ó Ríordáin earlier shook hands with and congratulated Mr McGrath and Mr Broughan. He hugged Ms Mitchell and shook hands with party leader Gerry Adams.

Praising the three winners he said they were great candidates, great politicians and would make a great contribution to the new Dail.

“We believed in things and we’ve done our best in the Ministry to push certain agendas and the day wasn’t with us”. He said some people had voted for him “but they made it quite clear that they weren’t supporting the Labour party”.

They were expecting more support for the government but “the tide was out”. They had made a decision that they did not want the Government returned but he did not know what decision they had made.

Mr O’Riordain’s defeat means the party is facing an uphill battle to retain speaking rights in the Dail. The party only has six TDs elected so far. Labour’s Willie Penrose is still in a battle for a seat in Longford-Westmeath.

Newly elected Sinn Fein TD Denise Mitchell said it was "clear from this election that the Fine Gael and Labour Government have left the stage. So it's important that they take their water charges and their property tax along with them."

She paid tribute to her running mate Micheal MacDonncha and to Larry O’Toole the party’s long-standing councillor and former candidate.

She said Mr O’Toole “tipped the post in 2011 and we delivered it today”.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams praised the calibre of their candidates and the spread through the State and said they did not need the gender quota, because they were putting forward women for winnable seats.

He added that the party had a notion that that they would elect a TD in the constituency and said when Mr OToole was in the early days they only had three people and “hadn’t a penny to rub together”.

Ms McDonald said it was a fantastic result in Dublin Bay North and six of the Sinn Fein team were women which was great and the party was conscious of the work that still had to be done.

Mr Broughan said the result today was a “vindication of the stand I took in 2011 of outright opposition to austerity, to cuts which have hurt people very badly in the last five years”.

A former Labour Party TD, he had opposed coalition with Fine Gael and left over budget cuts. He said the last five years had been a “tough and lonely road”, but he felt vindicated.

There were concerns at the early stages of the count because “the southside of the Northside”, areas such as Clontarf and Killester , had not delivered many votes, but he received strong support from his Artane, Beaumont and Coolock heartland.

Mr McGrath, who had privately conceded on Saturday, said it was an honour and privilege to be re-elected and said he would do his best to represent the people of the new merged constituency.

Seán Haughey elected

Fianna Fail's Sean Haughey and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton have already been elected.

Mr Haughey came in second. His election was delayed by 24 hours as a full re-check of all votes of the top seven candidates was carried out.

Independent Senator Averil Power was granted a full re-check of votes after count 12 when she was 67 votes behind Mr Broughan.

The recheck narrowed the gap to just over 40 votes, but deputy returning officer Declan Hayes said there was “no material difference” that would have been likely to alter the result and Ms Power was eliminated.

Mr Haughey received 797 votes from the former Fianna Fáil Senator, sufficient to bring him over the quota of 12,271 with a surplus of 483 votes.

Ms Power ran as an independent after falling out with the party in the wake of the marriage equality referendum.

A member of the Haughey camp said shortly before the announcement “all the trouble she caused for Fianna Fáil in this constituency and she gets Sean elected - that makes us feel very good”.

Mr Haughey said however that he wanted to commiserate with her. “Politics is not easy and this must be a very difficult night for her. It’s just the way the eliminations took place. Democracy can be cruel. In general elections there are winners and losers and I would like to commiserate with her.”

He said it was a great honour to be elected and he was “very conscious of the responsibility and trust that’s been placed in me. There are good days and bad days in politics and today’s a very good day for me.”

Power’s campaign built from scratch

On Monday night, after a recount of Ms Power’s votes and those of the candidates ahead of her in the election, there had been no material difference to the result and she was eliminated.

Count staff then distributed Ms Power’s 7,668 votes – bringing Mr Haughey over the line.

Ms Power said she was delighted with the campaign which had been built “from scratch over the last few months and came within a few votes of Tommy Broughan who has been a TD for this area for 25 years”.

Speaking after deputy returning officer Declan Hayes had declared her exclusion, Ms Power said she was “incredibly proud of that performance. I’m really grateful to the more than 7,000 people who gave me their vote and to my incredible campaign team.”

She said she did not regret seeking the recount. “I think it was important for all of us to make sure that the vote was correct. There were over 74,000 votes in the constituency. Before we started the recount there were 67 between myself and Tommy. It’s now down to about 40 so it has moved.

“There have been about 100 votes that moved back and forth between the various candidates that could yet change the result between other people who are currently still in the race.”

Everyone wanted the reassurance that the initial counts had been carried out correctly, she added.

“This constituency could yet come down to somebody winning or losing a seat on the basis of a dozen or so votes and I think it’s shocking that more than 150 votes correctly cast, had come to nothing.”

She said she had not decided if she would run for the Seanad. She wanted to reflect on the outcome.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times