Some of the major casualties

 

MARY O'ROURKE(Fianna Fáil) - Sister of the legendary Brian Lenihan and aunt of two current Fianna Fáil TDs, Mary O'Rourke's defeat in Westmeath was a bolt out of the blue for many political observers. The Fianna Fáil deputy leader had held a seat in the county since November 1982 and was regarded as a shoo-in with her high national profile as a minister and strong base in Athlone. Whether she will fade into the background or lives to fight another day remains to be seen.

DICK SPRING(Labour) - A former Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and leader of the Labour Party, Dick Spring was a formidable presence in Irish and European politics in the 1980s and 90s. A key player in the early stages of the peace process, he had planned to retire but was persuaded to run in Kerry North to protect the seat his father, Dan once occupied. His defeat in the most hotly contested constituency in the country is a huge loss for Ruairí Quinn's party and a major shock - not just in his native Kerry.

JIM MITCHELL(Fine Gael) - An unsuccessful challenger for the leadership of Fine Gael in the wake of the coup which ousted John Bruton in 2001, the 55-year-old was the victim of boundary changes. It was thought his national profile as a former minister in several Fine Gael led governments and as an acerbic critic of Fianna Fáil on the Opposition benches would be enough to guarantee him a seat in Bertie Ahern's constituency. But even the acclaim he received as chairman of the Dail's Public Accounts Committee could not secure him a seat in Dublin Central.

AUSTIN CURRIE(Fine Gael) - The only former TD to have served in governments on both sides of the Irish border is quitting politics after a career spanning five decades. As a nationalist MP in Stormont, he came to prominence during the Catholic Civil rights campaign of the 1960s, then as a founder of the SDLP and later served in the Sunningdale power sharing executive. In 1989, he moved to the Irish Republic, winning a Fine Gael seat in Dublin West and served as a junior minister in John Bruton's rainbow coalition. Boundary changes forced him to move to the new constituency of Dublin Mid West but he faded early on in the contest as the Fine Gael vote slumped across the city.

ALAN DUKES(Fine Gael) - The former Fine Gael leader and author of the famous ‘Tallaght Strategy' credited with restoring public finances was always held in high esteem as a Parliamentary performer. He leaves the Dáil with a wealth of ministerial experience under his belt in the Departments of Finance, Justice, and Transport, Energy and Communication. Another victim of the dramatic collapse in the Fine Gael vote, he will not find it easy to walk away from life in the political frontline.

NORA OWEN(Fine Gael) - The first victim of the electoral purge of Fine Gael figures, Nora Owen was clearly in a state of shock and distress after being informed of her defeat at the electronic count in Dublin North. Initially dropped by Michael Noonan from the Fine Gael frontbench after he ousted John Bruton as party leader, she served as the Minister for Justice between 1994 and 1997 in the Rainbow Coalition. Her campaign suffered a setback last month when she sustained an injury, forcing her to leave the count centre on crutches in the early hours of Saturday morning in the company of her sister, MEP Mary Banotti.

BRIAN HAYES(Fine Gael) - Brian Hayes' defeat was a stunning reversal of fortune for a young politician tipped as a future Fine Gael leader. Five years ago, he topped the poll in Dublin South West. Yesterday, he left the count centre empty handed. Under John Bruton's leadership, he created a stir as the party spokesman on Northern Ireland. Now he must rebuild his political career, using his Dublin County Council seat as a springboard back into the national stage and is unlikely to give up easily. PA