Elections 2014: Coalition loses out to Sinn Féin and smaller parties

Taoiseach Enda Kenny admits it has ‘not been a good day’ for the Government parties

Dublin correspondent Olivia Kelly is watching the results of the Dublin local elections unfold at the RDS. Video: Darragh Bambrick

 

The Government parties look set to suffer major losses in the local, European and byelections, as tallies and initial results suggest Sinn Féin, Independents and others will make major gains.

Just 130 out of 949 seats have been filled in the local elections so far but the Labour Party in particular seems certain to lose a significant number of seats.

Several senior Labour Party ministers have acknowledged it has been a “difficult day”.

In terms of seats secured so far, Sinn Féin has 48, Independents and others have 34, Fianna Fáil has 27, Fine Gael has 17, and Labour has four.

Fianna Fáil is performing well, and party leader Micheál Martin said the elections marked “a milestone in the renewal of the party”.

Sinn Féin is also performing strongly, and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she expects the party will win more than 100 seats in the local elections and have “a rake of new councillors” in Dublin city.

Counting will not begin in the European election until tomorrow, but an RTÉ exit poll has Fine Gael on 22 per cent; Labour 6 per cent; Fianna Fáil 22 per cent; Sinn Féin 17 per cent; Green Party 6 per cent.

In the Dublin European parliament constituency Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan looks set to top the poll. Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes is also tallying well. Eamon Ryan (Green), Mary Fitzpatrick (FF), Nessa Childers (Ind), Paul Murphy (Socialist Party), Emer Costello (Lab) and Bríd Smith (PBP) are battling it out for the third seat.

Luke Ming Flanagan is performing well so far in the Midlands-North-West European constituency and looks set to win a seat there.

Fianna Fáil’s Brian Crowley is likely to top the poll in the Ireland South European constituency with Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada also in contention for a seat.

Socialist Party candidate Ruth Coppinger has taken the Dáil seat vacated by Patrick Nulty in the Dublin West byelection after a close tussle with Fianna Fáil’s David McGuinness and Sinn Féin’s Paul Donnelly.

In the Longford-Westmeath byelection Fine Gael’s Gabrielle McFadden is on the verge of claiming the Dáil seat vacated by the death of her sister, Nicky.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny tonight congratulated Ms McFadden but said it was “not a good day” for the Government parties.

“We went in to this with our eyes wide open. The vote is one of frustration, one of anger, and of saying to Government ‘we need you to do better’.

“Obviously it is not a good day for Government. The Labour Party and Fine Gael undertook to sort out the nation’s difficulties. It’s been a hard day for Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party - politics is never easy.”

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said the people of the country had “sent a very clear message to the Government and indeed the Labour Party”.

“We have to address the huge mess that was made of the medical card issue and we have to renew the work that we are doing in Government.”

He said there was “no question” over his leadership and that he expected to continue in his role.

Labour Ministers have reacted to the party’s poor showing throughout the day and Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte insisted the Programme for Government will be renewed despite an assertion to the contrary earlier this week by the Taoiseach.

Labour’s deputy leader Joan Burton said Mr Gilmore had her “confidence” and that the challenges facing the Labour Party were “far wider than simply the issue of one person or personality”.

Asked if she might lead a heave against Mr Gilmore however, she said she was “not going to call anything like that until we get the results in”.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said he had full confidence in Mr Gilmore and would not support any move to remove him as leader.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the Government’s poor showing the elections must not lead to a softening of the Coalition’s austerity agenda.

“What we are not going to do now as a Government is have some sort of giveaway budget to be popular in the short term after a difficult election,” he said.

Sinn Féin and the DUP have consolidated their grip on Northern politics in the second day of counting in the local government elections.

With more than 400 of 462 seats now declared on a turnout of just over 50 per cent, the two largest parties have 213 seats between them.

In terms of first preference votes Sinn Féin is the largest party with fractionally over 24 per cent, marginally down on the last election. The DUP has just over 23 per cent, down more than 4 percentage points.

One of the focal points of the local election campaign was the Blackrock ward of the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown local authority where former Fianna Fáil minister Mary Hanafin decided to contest for a seat against the party’s wishes.

Fine Gael’s Marie Baker has topped the poll there but Ms Hanafin has been elected in second place, while the party’s preferred candidate Kate Feeney is polling third and it is expected she will also take a seat.

Both Ms Hanafin and party leader Micheal Martin have said the dispute is now “water under the bridge”.