Dublin Fingal: Joe O’Brien wins Green Party’s first ever byelection
O’Brien topped the poll in the 12 candidate field with 5,744 first preference votes
Joe O’Brien: ‘We had the so called green wave in the summer at the local elections, but it’s gaining traction now and I think it’s more than a wave.’ Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
The Green Party has won its first ever Dáil byelection as Joe O’Brien emerged as the comfortable victor in Dublin Fingal.
Mr O’Brien topped the poll in the 12 candidate field with 5,744 first preference votes, or just under 23 per cent of all first preferences.
Turnout in the contest to fill the vacancy created by the election of Clare Daly to the European Parliament was very low at just 25.6 per cent.
Mr O’Brien was deemed elected without reaching the quota on the eighth count, with a total vote of 12,315 – just shy of the quota of 12,546 – at the conclusion of the count.
Fianna Fáil senator Lorraine Clifford Lee came second and Labour’s Duncan Smith came third on first preference votes and they held their positions until the end of the count.
Mr O’Brien’s victory sees him join party leader Eamon Ryan and Dublin Rathdown TD Catherine Martin in the Dáil and builds on a successful local and European elections for the Greens earlier this year.
He performed well in areas such as Skerries, Portmarnock and Malahide, an indication that the pattern that support for the Greens is increasing in middle class areas of Dublin, seen in the local and European elections, is holding.
Dublin Fingal is a five seat constituency and Mr O’Brien will be well placed to hold his seat at the next election. He is based in Skerries, and the town now is home to three TDs: Mr O’Brien, Labour’s Brendan Ryan and Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly.
‘Double and triple’
The other two TDs – Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien and Fine Gael’s Alan Farrell – are based in Malahide. Green Party sources said they wanted to beat Labour in this constituency at the byelection to maintain their momentum on the centre left.
Speaking after the count concluded at the National Show Centre in Swords, Mr O’Brien said a lot of work had gone into his victory, but said people are “definitely” “changing their minds” on the climate issue.
“We had the so called green wave in the summer at the local elections, but it’s gaining traction now and I think it’s more than a wave,” he said. “I think there’s a bit of a sea change in terms of how people are deciding where to put their votes.”
Mr Ryan also said there has been a “change in the last year”.
“ There is a green wave of thinking. It’s coming from younger people, but older people responding to that as well. Everyone knows now we’re in a climate crisis and a biodiversity crisis.
“Our job is to present the practical solutions that will allow us changes the country for the best in responding to those crises.”
The Dublin Bay South TD said the number of Green TDs will increase in the next Dáil if the pattern of the past year is continued.
He said he and Ms Martin were looking forward to having Mr O’Brien as a third TD.
“I’d like to double and triple that again in the next election, and I think we can. It’s up to the Irish people and it’s up to ourselves.”