Fine Gael loses seat in Taoiseach’s back yard
Published 01/03/2016 | 02:30
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he had a "duty and responsibility" to keep working towards stability.
But seeing two seats in his home constituency go to Fianna Fáil was just another blow in a long line of disappointments.
After topping the poll in Mayo, a subdued Mr Kenny attended the count centre on Saturday night.
Insisting he would remain leader of Fine Gael, Mr Kenny could be forgiven if he was a little distracted and he actually missed his own election to the next Dáil.
Returning officer Fintan Murphy delivered the results while the Taoiseach was busy talking to media.
He described the results as a disappointing day for his party, adding: "Democracy is always exciting, but it is merciless."
Asked if he would be reconsidering his position in light of the results, he said: "My position as Taoiseach and head of Government, I have a duty and responsibility to work with the decision the people have made to provide the country with a stable Government. That I intend to do fully and completely."
Looking slightly shell-shocked, Mr Kenny walked through the count centre greeting some of the hundreds of supporters who wished him well.
His right-hand man, Michael Ring, who came second in the constituency, was just as baffled by the outcome.
After his election, Mr Ring paid tribute to colleagues who had lost their seats, saying: "They took the brave decision for the country and the country didn't reward them."
He laid out three options for a future Government - a Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael coalition, Fianna Fáil, Independents and Sinn Féin or a grouping of the extreme left, saying he personally would work with everybody except Sinn Féin.
"Anybody else I can deal with but not Sinn Féin," he added.
While Fine Gael licked their collective wounds, the celebrations of the night belonged firmly to Fianna Fáil.
The party saw its two candidates, Dara Calleary and Lisa Chambers, returned on the 10th count. Hundreds of supporters had gathered at the count centre for the result, breaking into renditions of 'The West's Awake' and 'The Fields of Athenry'.
After his re-election, Mr Calleary reiterated his stance against entering government with Fine Gael.
"We achieved a mandate yesterday on the basis of changing government, on the basis of putting fairness at the centre of government and I don't think Fine Gael can respond to that mandate," he said.
He said he was confident a government could be formed that would last the course. But his final words were for outgoing TDs from both main parties, John O'Mahony and Michelle Mulherin.
"It's a very, very tough trade when it goes wrong," he added.