Meath West results: Surprise at Fianna Fáil loss as seismic shift to left
Johnny Guirke, Peadar Tóibín and Damien English elected
The big surprise for many in Meath West was the loss of the Fianna Fáil seat, which was almost the surety in this election that it could be retained by incumbent Shane Cassells. Photograph: Tom Honan
The big surprise for many in Meath West was the loss of the Fianna Fáil seat, which was almost the surety in this election that it could be retained by incumbent Shane Cassells.
A seismic shift to the left ensured Sinn Fein’s Johnny Guirke topped the poll and retained the party seat held by former Sinn Fein member Peadar Toibin since 2011 before he left and formed Aontu last year.
Ironically Peadar Toibin also kept his seat, this time under his new party banner of Aontú and expressed delight at a ‘massive achievement of a national turnout of 2 per cent for the party”
Despite the bookies having Shane Cassells at 10/1, it wasn’t to be Fianna Fáil’s day as the lone-runner had no-one else on the ticket to mop up transfers.
Even Fine Gael’s Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development Damien English said he was shocked, saying: “I genuinely thought that Shane would take the first seat and that Sinn Féin’s Johnny Guirke would take the second.
“I really thought it would be between me and Aontú’s Peadar Toibin for the final seat.
“I felt we covered more ground than any other election, but what I met on the doorsteps was frustration and not anger.
“My genuine belief is that we are making progress in housing but that progress wasn’t quick enough for people.
“Everyone is back at work but they feel that by the time they pay the bills, they have less money in their pockets and that is an issue.
“Fine Gael picked three candidates and we genuinely thought we had a chance at two seats at the time.
“We won’t be going into a Government with Sinn Féin but hope that we can be part of the new Government as it’s going to be a difficult ten months ahead with Brexit.”
Candidates: Shane Cassells (FF), Damien English (FG), Noel French (FG), Johnny Guirke (SF), John Malone (Renua), Séamus McMenamin (Green Party), Ronan Moore (Social Democrats), Sarah Reilly (FG), Peadar Tóibín (Aontú).