MICHAEL Ring has paid tribute to his coalition colleagues who have lost their seats saying; "They took the brave decision for the country and the country didn't reward them".
He said he now saw 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.
He said he personally would work with everybody except Sinn Féin.
"Over the next couple of weeks there will be a lot of discussions and negotiations going on. Personally I can work with anybody, I've always worked with people but I certainly, personally, will not go into Government with Sinn Féin. Anybody else I can deal with but not Sinn Féin," he said.
Mr Ring said he would love to see Fine Gael leading the next Government adding; "I think we deserve to be back in Government after the job we did and we just have to wait and see how they can pull it together".
However, he said he did not expect we would have a government by March 10.
The Fine Gael TD said it could have been worse for the party.
"I actually thought yesterday we could finish up on 44, 45 seats.It looks likes now we could finish up on 50, 50 plus and that's not a bad election for Fine Gael. Our partners Labour, I really feel sorry for them because I have to say there were some tremendous colleagues in that. I was sorry to see some of the people who lost their seats, they took the brave decision for the country and the country didn't reward them.
Speaking about where Fine Gael went wrong, Mr Ring said he believed the party should have sold a different message.
"We didn't see our message. Maybe the slogan we had wasn't the best slogan that could have been there, people weren't feeling the recovery but I think we should have sold a different message: where the economy was, where it is now and where we're going and by God going back five years and people forget and people have very short memories," he said.
He said Labour had paid a big price and it was "very unfair".
"PR and democracy is not perfect but it's the only thing we know," he said
Mr Ring was upbeat about his long wait for election on the ninth count, describing it as a tremendous achievement given the number of challengers and the loss of over 3,000 votes in the constituency changes.
He said that delivering as a Junior Minister had not given him a boost in certain areas.
"You look at some of the places where we allocated a lot of money, go down to Eachléim we put over half a million into a hall down there recently and i get beaten two to one in it. Go down to Mulranny where we revitalised the whole area, made a fantastic place below in Mulranny and I get 42 votes, so you would have to wonder do they want deliverance or not, I don't know.
He accepted it was "not looking good" for his running mate Michelle Mulherin.
"The numbers are not there at the moment. We couldn't do any more. The Taoiseach had only 500 to spare, I was under the quota and she was next. So we couldn't do any more. If I had lost anymore votes I would have been in a bit of difficulty," he said.
Mr Ring was elected on the ninth count in Mayo.
Meanwhile, elected candidates in Mayo thanked their supporters this afternoon as the count completed with two TDs each for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
Newly elected Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers thanked everyone involved in her team. She said it was a remarkable achievement for the party to return two TDs in the constituency.
She said it was a fantastic day for the organisation and thanked everybody who voted for her. She promised them she would not waste their vote.
"I believe this job is important, I believe it is worth fighting for and I will do my very best for the people of Mayo," she said.
Mr Ring thanked his supporters, particularly his wife as "the second TD in the county" for all her hard work.
"Democracy is democracy, the people have spoken," he said.
He said the elected candidates now have a job to do, acknowledging it was unclear what that job was yet.
Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary said it was a huge honour to have been re-elected. He thanked the Fianna Fáil organisation in Mayo adding: "When people stood back the Fianna Fail membership in Co Mayo stood up".
He thanked his parents referencing his father's ill health over a number of months.
"No drug can do what this result has done for him today," he said.
He paid tribute to outgoing Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin for all her hard work in the county and to John O'Mahony for all his hard work.
He said he was absolutely thrilled to be working with Lisa Chambers and said he also looked forward to
He said he deeply respected the mandate given to the candidates by the electorate.
"We entered into this election on the basis of offering change," he said, adding "we must respect that mandate".
Outgoing Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin who lost out on the last seat thanked everyone who had voted for her and said her time in office had changed her life.
Fianna Fáil supporters broke into a rendition of The West's Awake as they waited for confirmation that both their candidates were elected.
A large number of supporters gathered in the TF Royal in Castlebar, hoisting both Lisa Chambers and Dara Calleary onto their shoulders as the results came in.
Both candidates joined Fine Gael's Michael Ring and Michelle Mulherin on stage after the final counts but there was no sign of Taoiseach Enda Kenny who last night topped the poll in the constituency.
Earlier today, Independent candidate Stephen Manning removed by security at Mayo count centre after he approached Enda Kenny
Mr Manning was immediately blocked by security staff at the TF Royal as he attempted to approach Mr Kenny.
As the Taoiseach left the count centre, Mr Manning was detained in the room by security staff.
"Take your hands off me," he told staff, pointing out that he was a candidate in the ongoing election.
After a number of minutes Mr Manning was escorted from the room by two security staff who held him by the arms as they took him from the room.
He was later allowed to returned.