Lynch and Buttimer suffer in counts
Published 01/03/2016 | 02:30
Fianna Fáil celebrated the party's resurgence as Cork South Central, Ireland's self-styled 'Constituency of Death', proved fatal for Coalition re-election hopes.
Both Labour and Fine Gael lost TDs as Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney - who held his seat, despite his vote dropping by 1,500 - warned there could be "no hiding" from the reality of a hugely disappointing election for the Government parties.
In a signal of the Coalition's woes, Mr Coveney was pushed into fourth place as Sinn Féin's Cllr Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire took the third seat.
Ruling out a leadership challenge, he said: "We will win in or around 50 seats and we will be the largest party. Enda Kenny will be the leader of the largest party."
High-profile Fine Gael backbench TD Jerry Buttimer lost his seat, as did Labour TD and Oireachtas Banking Inquiry chairman Ciarán Lynch. Mr Buttimer said he believed Fine Gael should now go into Opposition and that the onus for forming the next Government should rest with Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Independents.
"I'm trying to be philosophical about it. But it is very disappointing. Losing my Bishopstown base to Cork North Central was a bridge too far really. To quote Van Morrison, 'My mother told me there'll be days like this.' What else can you say?"
Labour suffered the indignity of seeing the Green Party candidate overtake Mr Lynch, who was eliminated on the ninth count.
Fianna Fáil celebrated as leader Micheál Martin and finance spokesman Michael McGrath were both elected on the first count with huge votes.
Sinn Féin made a major breakthrough with the election of newcomer Mr Ó Laoghaire.