The losers . . .


ANALYSIS/Fine Gael: Fine Gael's traumatic losses nationwide included many leading members of its front bench.

At least 22 deputies were ousted in the tumultous election which utterly changes the face of the Opposition. One of the shock defeats was that of the party's agriculture spokesman, Mr Alan Dukes (57) in Kildare South. A former party leader, he was first elected to the Dáil in 1981 and has held a number of senior ministerial posts.

Some put his defeat down to a party decision to use him as a national party promoter for the party on the media, allowing him less time in his constituency. He said he would stay involved in the party and hoped to run again at the next election. He is likely to be a Seanad contender.

There were further shocks in Mayo when the party's public enterprise spokesman, Jim Higgins (57) , a TD for 15 years, lost by 87 votes to leadership contender and party colleague Enda Kenny. A high-profile frontbench spokesman, that may have affected his work in the constituency. He said he would be reflecting and would decide whether to "have a look at the Senate".

Another deputy of 15 years standing, Charles Flanagan (45) enterprise spokesman and son of the late Oliver J Flanagan also lost. He lost out in Laois-Offaly, where Tom Parlon won for the Progressive Democrats.

Fine Gael's chief whip and one of the younger generation of deputies, Paul Bradford (38), was ousted in Cork East.

There was defeat too in Limerick West for Michael Finucane (59), chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

Deirdre Clune (42), the party's environment spokeswoman, lost out in the highly competitive and still disputed Cork South Central constituency, where Dan Boyle of the Green party was elected and independent disability campaigner Kathy Sinnott was set to win.

The son of a TD and another frontbench victim was the party's education spokesman, Michael Creed (38), in Cork North West, while Gerry Reynolds (41) the party's spokesman on western development, and the third generation of his family in the Dáil, also succumbed in the battle for seats in Sligo-Leitrim, where Independent Marian Harkin was victorious.

The party bucked the national trend in Meath by retaining two seats, but John V. Farrelly (47) fell foul of the electorate, with his running mate Damien English (24) replacing him.

Louis Belton (58) one of the Dáil's best hecklers, lost out in Longford-Roscommon.

Other backbench victims included Andrew Boylan (62), who had served 15 years as a TD for Cavan-Monaghan. This constituency elected the Hospital Action Group candidate Paudge Connolly.

A TD who was elected for the first time in 1997, Ulick Burke (58), lost out in Galway East. Former Minister of State Donal Carey (64) was defeated in Clare. Michael D'Arcy (68) lost in Wexford and P.J. Sheehan (68) lost in Cork South West. The TD, who once described his constituency as "furthest from the Dáil and nearest the White House", ended up competing with his running mate Jim O'Keeffe and demanded a recount.

O'Keeffe retained his seat, one of the few front bench survivors, when the returning officer confirmed there was no significant change in the votes.