Louth: First seat in the Dail for Adams as results go his way
SINN Fein President Gerry Adams, whose voice was once banned from the airwaves, will soon be heard in the Dail chamber.
Mr Adams heads for the Dail for the first time after securing more than 15,000 first preference votes, topping the poll and being elected on the first count in Louth.
"We are here to deliver on the mandate we have received," Mr Adams said.
Sinn Fein strategists believe the trebling of its strength in the Dail will be a springboard for even greater growth.
It is the only all-Ireland party and holds a dominant position north of the Border, but the party has previously struggled to bridge the divide between the different political arenas.
The scale of support for Mr Adams seemed to take all political watchers at the count centre by surprise, including some Sinn Fein supporters.
Even as the tallies rolled in, Fianna Fail quickly acknowledged that among the new-found grassroots support for Mr Adams were voters who had once supported Fianna Fail.
"We lost our working class support base to him, said Frank Maher who is the sole Fianna Fail councillor on Drogheda Borough Council.
Fine Gael also recorded notable successes, with Fergus O'Dowd elected on the first count and Peter Fitzpatrick securing a seat on the last.
The last seat had gone their way after 'Fitzer' Fitzpatrick, the Louth football manager, secured the bulk of the surplus vote from Labour's Gerald Nash.
Mr Nash was elected on the 12th count and his surplus brought Mr Fitzpatrick nearly a 1,000 votes ahead of Fianna Fail's best performer, Senator James Carroll.
Labour's vote nearly quadrupled to reach just under 20pc and Mr Nash's running mate, Dundalk teacher Mary Moran, is credited with securing the party thousands of new voters in the north of the county.
Mr Carroll acknowledged Fianna Fail was "deserted by voters everywhere".
However, he believed that if it had run a single candidate rather than two it would have held on to a seat.
The fifth and final seat in Louth went to the Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk, who is automatically elected.
He is now the sole Fianna Fail TD in Louth.
Irish Independent Supplement