Enda Kenny dismisses FG losses as a 'blip' after poll drubbing
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny insisted the party's losses were a "blip" as Fine Gael's seats were halved from four to two in his home town.
He insisted that it was a "quirk of the democratic process" and that small gains could have meant dozens more seats for the senior government party.
"It's a blip here. We had four sitting councillors in the new area and the project decided to stand five. It's a quirk of the democratic process and the PR system that this happened," he said.
Mr Kenny's brother Henry looked set to retain his seat despite the recount for the Castlebar area. He was one of five candidates elected in the one count to the eight-seat constituency. However, a recount was immediately ordered.
Prior to the Taoiseach's arrival at the Castlebar count centre, a group of protestors gathered at the hotel bearing placards against austerity.
Mr Kenny said it had been a good day for Independents and Sinn Fein but warned "with success comes responsibility".
"I think you're going to find now that where they're going to be managing the affairs of municipal authorities around the country, they are going to have to find out the programmes and the budgets and how it is structured and who pays for what," he said.
Sinn Fein is the big winner in the constituency, taking three seats and fighting for a fourth. The party's Claremorris candidate Gerry Murray managed to secure election on the first count despite losing 85pc of his territory with the re-drawing of boundaries.
"I thought I'd be fighting for the last seat. I'm delighted with the outcome," he said. "People on the ground were saying they would vote Sinn Fein in the hope that the Government might open the purse strings, that a significant vote for Sinn Fein would shake them out of the current fiscal straitjacket they are placing on the country."
Fianna Fail is on course to take up to 10 seats – up from seven. Dara Calleary TD said the party was delighted.
He said: "We were obliterated by Fine Gael in Mayo in 2011 and now we're back matching them. To secure three seats out of eight seats in Castlebar, the Taoiseach's home turf, is a particularly good showing."
Irish Independent Supplement