Friday 18 October 2019

Labour licks wounds as SocDems eye gains

Roisin Shortall of the Social Democrats in Dublin’s RDS. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Roisin Shortall of the Social Democrats in Dublin’s RDS. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The Labour Party failed to make a comeback and Independents experienced mixed fortunes in the European and local elections.

Labour was poised to secure just 6pc of the vote in the local elections and the big hitters sent out to secure the party seats in Europe failed to deliver.

Sorting ballot papers in the RDS. Photo: PA
Sorting ballot papers in the RDS. Photo: PA

Alex White, a former minister, trailed behind the Social Democrats' Gary Gannon in the Dublin constituency at 5pc, according to an RTE TG4 exit poll.

Former Labour TD Dominic Hannigan clocked 3pc in the Midlands North West, as did the party's third candidate, Sheila Nunan, in Ireland South.

The Labour vote share in the local elections was put at 6pc. The party won 51 seats in the last local elections in 2014 but this weekend many sitting councillors look in danger of losing their seats.

Labour Senator Aodhan O Riordain yesterday raised a possible union of Greens, Social Democrats and Labour following the local elections but played down question marks over Brendan Howlin's future leadership of the party.

"We haven't had a great day," he conceded but he pointed to tallies that suggested that Labour would gain seats in some counties. The party had to contend with a Green surge and "scrap" for seats with the Social Democrats, who performed better than expected.

The Social Democrats were predicted to have won 2pc of the vote in the local elections, with expected gains in Galway city and Wicklow.

While Gannon was one of the most talked-about Euro candidates on Twitter, it was not enough to secure him a seat.

The SocDems' other talked-about candidate, Ellie Kisyombe, also battled for a council seat in Dublin's north inner city. Originally from Malawi, she lives in the direct provision system while awaiting the outcome of her asylum application, but she faced controversy over alleged inconsistencies in her 'back story'. "The battle is still on but for me... I've got the best of you and I love you very much," she tweeted yesterday.

The Independents4Change fared well in Europe on the strength of Clare Daly TD, who was predicted to get 12pc of the vote, which put in her with a shout for a seat in Dublin.

Her long-standing ally Mick Wallace, the Wexford TD, fared slightly less well in Ireland South at 10pc in the polls, although he was still in with a shout.

Solidarity/People before Profit took 4pc across the local elections but made a negligible impression in the European elections, running three candidates it described as "activists of a new generation". Sitting Independent MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan battled the Green surge that propelled his rival Saoirse McHugh in Midlands North West.

Peter Casey, the millionaire who campaigned on immigration, failed to replicate his unexpected popularity in the presidential campaign, trailing in with 7pc.

Assorted Independents, who were so much a feature of the last local elections, seemed less dominant in this one.

Of the single-issue candidates, Matt Shanahan, who campaigned for cardiac and hospital care in the south-east, was reported to be topping the poll in his ward in Waterford.

Sunday Independent

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