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Bruton's ship comes in as tide takes Haughey out

FINE Gael's Richard Bruton topped the poll in Dublin North Central on the second count after almost making the quota with 25 per cent of the first-preference votes cast.

The Labour Party took the second seat with school teacher Aodhan O'Riordan taking 22.5 per cent of first preferences.

Outgoing TD Finian McGrath managed to hang on to take the third and final seat in the constituency, thanks mainly to high levels of transfers from eliminated candidates.

But the drama yesterday was at the other end of the result's page, as 56 years of involvement for the Haughey clan were brought to an end when Fianna Fail's Sean Haughey lost his seat. Mr Haughey conceded defeat before the first count was even announced, following a cross-party tally that put him in fourth place.

He first won the seat in 1992 following the retirement of his father, the late Taoiseach Charles J Haughey. He accepted the Fianna Fail brand had cost him votes, but maintained that his family name was not a liability.

"There has been a Haughey in Dublin North Central now for 56 years and my grandfather Sean Lemass was elected to the Dail in 1926. But I think there is too much made of that (the Haughey dynasty) really," he said.

Mr Haughey added he hadn't yet considered his political future. "Sean Lemass would have said, 'No sentimentality, no emotion, there's a job to be done, re-organise the party, get on with it', and my father might have said, 'fight to fight and fight back again', so I'll assess all that in the coming months," he told reporters.

The victorious Richard Bruton praised Mr Haughey as a "hard-working and decent" person but said he wasn't surprised with the result.

"We learnt in 2002 that when the tide is out against a party it doesn't respect names or reputations, they just get washed away," he said.

Kevin Keane

Sunday Independent