Alan Kelly: 'Joan Burton always has my support - that's always the way it is'
Published 28/02/2016 | 16:24
A triumphant and clearly relieved Alan Kelly failed to make the quota but was deemed elected alongside independent candidate Seamus Healy in a tightly contested battle for the final two seats in the constituency.
As he was lifted on the shoulders of supporters loudly chanting his name, a beaming Mr Kelly threw his head back, clenched his fists and shouted "yes".
He said: "I am absolutely thrilled and ecstatic that we got there in the end."
Earlier, he had been mobbed as he arrived at a packed Presentation Secondary School in Thurles surrounded by the party faithful singing the 1980s hit Simply The Best.
It was a bitter sweet occasion, he acknowledged, adding that at times he did feel under pressure.
But, dressed in a sharp navy suit, white shirt and red tie, Mr Kelly was in a defiant mood.
He said: "Rebuilding the party starts tomorrow and I am going to make sure I am working with everyone that we organise, we rebrand and we redevelop our party and redevelop our message because obviously we need to do that."
Although reluctant to go into details about the future for Labour, he said leader Joan Burton still had his support.
"It beholds all of us in the Labour Party to reflect now and to look at everything in the party," said Mr Kelly.
"Joan always has my support - that's always the way it is. But, those of us who won seats in this Dail need to step up to the plate collectively and look at what we need to do as a party.
"Today is not a day for talking about other issues. We need to think about things long and hard for a few weeks and then come back and look at what went wrong.
"I guarantee that the Labour Party will be coming back as a force in this country and I intend to be part of that."
Meanwhile, Fine Gael suffered a battering in Tipperary returning no TDs in a constituency where they previously had two.
On Saturday, independent Michael Lowry topped the poll.
Maverick independent Mattie McGrath was also returned.
After being hoisted into the air, he said: "I got elected so people must like the maverick. The media wrote me off - and here I am - I increased my vote. If that's the brand they want to put on me, I don't mind. I stand up for ordinary, simple values."
Farmer and Fianna Fail councillor Jackie Cahill was elected to the Dail for the first time and vowed to protect rural Ireland.