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Breaking the mould as 70 in Dail for first time

A LONG-haired builder fond of pink T-shirts, a pro-cannabis campaigner who has turned his attention to turf-cutting, and the first openly gay TD were just some of the new deputies elected on Friday. When the 31st Dail meets on March 9, almost 70 TDs will be there for the first time.

The election will be remembered as mould-breaking in many ways -- but it also saw the election of the first openly gay TD, with Meath East's Dominic Hannigan, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2007 General Election and has been in the Seanad since then. "It just shows how the country has moved on that it's not an issue," Mr Hannigan said last night.

Then there's the man the Fine Gael ladies of Dublin South-East were gushingly describing as the "new JFK" -- the new FG TD for the constituency, 28-year-old Eoghan Murphy.

Simon Harris, the 24-year-old FG candidate in Wicklow, looks set to be elected and he will be the youngest TD in the next Dail.

Wexford developer Mick Wallace -- who, along with his election team, wore pink during the campaign -- seemed an unlikely TD when he declared on 'Tonight with Vincent Browne' that he was running for the Dail.

But he romped home and topped the poll, leaving Fine Gael's plans for three seats in Wexford in tatters.

He will be joined in the Independent ranks by Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, who was elected in Roscommon South-Leitrim.

Ming is well known for his campaign to legalise cannabis, but he says he has many other priorities and is a prominent advocate for turf-cutting rights.

The Sinn Fein surge also saw a raft of new TDs from that party, such as Jonathan O'Brien in Cork South-Central.

He's joined by party stalwart Dessie Ellis, who was elected in Dublin North-West on his third attempt. Former MEP Mary Lou McDonald also made it to the Dail, after failing to take a seat in 2007.

Irish Independent