Where have all the liberal TDs gone? Turned out of office

Politicians behind popular agendas rewarded with electoral pain . . . rather than gain

Jerry Buttimer, Fine Gael’s deputy campaign director for the marriage referendum who revealed he was gay in 2012, was ousted in Cork South -Central

Jerry Buttimer, Fine Gael’s deputy campaign director for the marriage referendum who revealed he was gay in 2012, was ousted in Cork South -Central

 

Many liberal standard-bearers lost their seats in the general election, which took place less than a year after the groundbreaking same-sex marriage referendum.

The electorate declined to reward candidates who had advocated or delivered so-called social justice measures.

The Labour Party, which campaigned on a platform of appealing directly to “progressive” voters, bore the greatest number of casualties, but leading campaigners in other parties also lost their seats.

Fine Gael lost Alan Shatter, a prolific liberal legislator since the early 1980s, who failed to retain his Dublin Rathdown seat.

The party’s deputy leader and Minister for Children James Reilly, who indicated he would favour repeal of the Eighth Amendment, lost out in Dublin Fingal.

Jerry Buttimer, Fine Gael’s deputy campaign director for the marriage referendum who revealed he was gay in 2012, was ousted in Cork South Central.

Gay teachers

Alex White

Labour’s Kevin Humphreys, who steered the Gender Recognition Bill through the Oireachtas, failed to hold on to his seat in Dublin Bay South, while his party colleague and prominent marriage referendum activist John Lyons also lost out in Dublin North-West.

Another forceful voice in the marriage referendum, Independent Senator Averil Power, narrowly failed to make the grade in Dublin Bay North.

Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, whose mother is from a Traveller background, was a leading advocate for Travellers’ rights in the Dáil.

He will not be returning after his party overstretched itself in Donegal with a failed three-candidate strategy.

Feminist activist Katherine Zappone, the newly-elected Independent TD, bucked the trend with her surprise win in Dublin South-West. A Senator since 2011, she was the first openly lesbian member of the Oireachtas. She and her wife, Ann Louise Gilligan, played a prominent role in the marriage referendum.

Electoral pain

However, Gráinne Healy, former co-director of the Yes Equality campaign group, indicated that she was not entirely surprised.

“I don’t think any of the politicians really understood the level of anger and annoyance against them that existed. We knew this and that’s why Yes Equality was a civil society group led by non-political party people,” she said.

Knocking on doors

She said the Repeal the Eighth movement, which is seeking to overturn the 1983 amendment governing the State’s abortion laws, would now have to reassess how it might build political support for its position.

Indeed, the Pro Life Campaign yesterday welcomed the election result, with spokeswoman Dr Ruth Cullen saying Fianna Fáil and Independents “received the lion’s share” of the anti-abortion vote.

“It’s very clear that the demand for a referendum to dismantle the Eighth Amendment is coming from a small elite group in politics and the media,” she said.

“It is most definitely not coming from the grassroots up. The general election campaign made that clear if it needed to be clarified.”

Pro-choice TDs such as Ruth Coppinger of the AAA-PBP and Independent socialist Clare Daly are expected to push for fresh abortion legislation in the new Dáil.

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