Things must change, says head of PAC John McGuinness
THE chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness, said the public had sent out a clear message that it was time for a change of direction in politics.
The Carlow-Kilkenny TD, who has already signalled his intention to take over the helm from Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, said the party would have to "reflect long and hard" on the election results.
"It is time for a change of direction in politics," he said.
McGuinness revealed he continued to hold "leadership ambitions" but there was a more important issue of party structure and performance to be addressed.
"But my firm belief is it can't be business as usual and things will have to change," warned McGuinness on his home turf in the Springhill Court Hotel.
The McGuinness dynasty looked in safe hands in Kilkenny as the PAC chair's son Andrew McGuinness topped the poll in Kilkenny City-East, with Fianna Fail's newcomer, former Kilkenny hurler and bank worker, Peter 'Chap' Cleere, 31, just behind him after venturing onto doorsteps for the first time.
And it looks like Fianna Fail will take control of the Kilkenny Council, with tallies indicating it will take at least 11 if not 12 out of 24 seats.
One of the shock surprises of the election was Sinn Fein poll-topper Melissa O'Neill, 43, from Ferrybank, Co Kilkenny, who surged ahead in Kilkenny's Piltown district of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail's sitting councillor Eamon Aylward, a nephew of outgoing MEP Liam.
"I only came into the campaign three weeks ago," revealed O'Neill who has been working as a community support worker aiding women in Ferrybank for several years.
"I'm just amazed," said the lone parent, adding housing would be key issue for her on the council. "The reaction on the doorsteps was 'we need change' – it was a cry for help from the people really."
The boundary changes are delivering shock surprises in Kilkenny City-West with former poll topper and father-of-14 Fine Gael's Billy Ireland unlikely to get a seat, and the city's outgoing Mayor, Cllr Martin Brett, in difficulties.
Reflecting on the carnage nationwide, Labour looked set to lose two out of four seats, with the party's Maurice Shortall proving the saviour as he topped the tally in Castlecomer.
Shortall said: "The traditional ground for the Labour Party was always to stand in the gap between those who have and those who have not. Unfortunately because we have failed to live up to our obligation, we have paid the ultimate penalty here."