Tuesday 17 September 2019

Dun Laoghaire: Fine Gael bucks the national trend in South Dublin and pulls off three seater coup

Fine Gael's Mary Mitchell O’Connor
Fine Gael's Mary Mitchell O’Connor
Mary Hanafin. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil's Mary Hanafin. Photo: Arthur Carron
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett
Independent candidate Carol Hunt. Photo: Fergal Phillips

John Brennan

Dun Laoghaire saw Fine Gael buck a national trend and secure three of the four seats in the constituency.

Richard Boyd Barrett ultimately topped the poll in the constituency having been very transfer friendly, but it was six counts before he managed to get over the line.

Prior to this, candidates from the Fianna Fail, Labour, the Green Party, Renua Ireland, Sinn Fein, Independents and Direct Democracy Ireland had fallen by the wayside.

Fine Gael ultimately have secured three out of the available four seats in the constituency, which is a remarkable coup given how they fared across the country.

With Sean Barrett having already gotten a bye before the party’s disastrous showing at the polls, Fine Gael were bound to get at least two seats – but three?

Early tallies indicated that the Fine Gael duo of Bailey and Mitchell O’Connor and PBP’s Boyd Barrett would take some beating, and that proved to be the case.

Ms Mitchell O’Connor said it had been a tough day for the party, but maintained she was pleased to have both retained her seat and seen another female candidate elected in her constituency.

She gave her backing to under fire party leader Enda Kenny.

Fine Gael’s success here undeniably bucked a national trend and even defeated Fianna Fail candidate Mary Hanafin knew it.

She said that Fine Gael’s vote management strategy in the constituency had been “impeccable” while admitting that herself and fellow Fianna Fail candidate, Cormac Devlin hadn’t had one.

The former cabinet heavyweight was gracious in defeat, praising her former pupil and elected Fine Gael candidate, Maria Bailey.

Consummately professional, Ms Hanafin said, “[she was] a past pupil of mine – I’m glad I taught her so well.”

Fianna Fail will be left wondering what might have been after the plan to run two candidates ultimately backfired with both their candidates failing to win the party back seats in lost in 2011.

Cormac Devlin, while praising party leader Micheal Martin, once again questioned the sense of running two candidates in the constituency.

He, like Hanafin, was positive in defeat saying, that while it hadn’t been Fianna Fail’s day in the constituency, nationally it had been an utter success.

The day in Dun Laoghaire ultimately belonged to Boyd Barrett, who was elected on the same count that Labour candidate, Carrie Smyth was eliminated.

“It’s genuinely humbling to have the trust and respect of the people of Dun Laoghaire,” Boyd Barrett said.

He speculated that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael would make up the next government, but would not speculate on its longevity.

Triumphant, he said, “we knew Labour were going to suffer very serious retribution from the electorate from what has gone on in the last five years”.

He was right.

Sean Barrett, Richard Boyd Barrett, Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Maria Bailey took the four seats and secured their places in the next Dail.

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