Saturday 17 March 2018

Shatter and White among big casualties

Fine Gael's Alan Shatter. Photo: Frank McGrath
Fine Gael's Alan Shatter. Photo: Frank McGrath
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Casualites of the Coalition were strewn across the General Election battlefield last night. Fine Gael and Labour were expected to lose up to 40 seats between them, many of them Government ministers.

While the Labour wipeout had been predicted, Fine Gael suffered unexpected casualties. The party's deputy leader, Dr James Reilly, looked almost certain to lose his seat in Dublin Fingal last night.

The Minister for Children is a long-standing Kenny loyalist and was a poll-topper at the last election. He served a troubled stint as health minister.

Alan Shatter, the former justice minister, lost his seat in the new three-seater of Dublin Rathdown, pushed out by Catherine Martin, deputy leader of the Green Party, who took the third seat.

In Kerry, the one-time poll-topper, Jimmy Deenihan, was swamped by the vote for the Healy-Rae brothers. The Minister for the Diaspora had 8.2pc of first-preferences votes and his seat was under pressure last night.

Paudie Coffey, the Minister for Housing, was also in danger in Waterford, where he trailed in fifth in the four-seat constituency. Ahead of him was his party colleague, John Deasy, who will win a seat for Fine Gael.

In Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden conceded defeat, as did John Perry, the TD who went to court to get Fine Gael to add him to the election ticket. Derek Keating was set to be eliminated .

Labour took a beating from the electorate right across the country.

The party leader, Joan Burton, survived in Dublin West, relying on transfers to win the fourth seat.

Her deputy, Alan Kelly, the Environment Minister, seemed to have a fight on his hands in Tipperary, with Fianna Fail and Independents nipping at his heels.

Alex White, the Minister for Communications, became the first government minister to lose his seat when he was eliminated in Dublin Rathdown, where Shatter also fell.

The Minister for Education, Jan O'Sullivan, was in danger in Limerick City, where she fought Sinn Fein and Fine Gael for the last seat.

Ann Phelan also looked set to lose her seat in Carlow Kilkenny, trailing in eighth in the five-seat constituency. The junior minister for agriculture had a meltdown on local radio in the final week of the campaign but later said: "I was tired, I was hungry and I was extremely frustrated."

Kathleen Lynch, the junior minister responsible for mental health, struggled in Cork North Central, with 7pc of the vote and seemed unlikely to get elected.

As well as government ministers, several veteran Labour stalwarts lost seats. They included Joe Costello, who was eliminated in Dublin North Central and Eric Byrne in Dublin South Central, who was the first to concede defeat. The Labour stalwart Emmet Stagg was also expected to lose his seat in Kildare North.

The younger Labour TDs were also in trouble - Arthur Spring in Kerry, whom tallies put at 6pc; Anne Ferris in Wicklow, who polled just under 4pc; and Dominic Hannigan in Meath East. Joanna Tuffy conceded that she had lost her Dublin MidWest seat.

Willie Penrose was resigned to losing his seat in Longford/Westmeath. "There wouldn't be much of a danger of me retaining my seat," he conceded last night. "When the tide is out, the tide is out and you can't row against it."

It was a big day for the smaller parties and Independents but not so good for Renua.

On the fledging party's first election outing, its founder Lucinda Creighton was expected to lose her seat in Dublin Bay South.

It looked like the party might not win any Dail seats but Renua candidate Billy Timmins was not quite out of the picture in Wicklow.

Earlier yesterday, Creighton's husband, Paul Bradford, also a Renua candidate, conceded defeat in Cork East.

"Politics is for the long haul," he commented.

Sunday Independent

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