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Saturday 17 November 2018

In brief: Enda Kenny will be second oldest Taoiseach in history of the State

Enda Kenny will be the second oldest Taoiseach in the history of the State. The FG leader will, for the second Dail in a row, be the 'father of the house'.

This is a term given to the longest-serving deputy of the Dail and, having been first elected in 1975, Mr Kenny beats Ruairi Quinn to the title by two years. However, Mr Kenny is the second oldest TD to become the Taoiseach. He is six weeks older than Albert Reynolds was, but three weeks younger than Sean Lemass when he first became Taoiseach.

McWilliams bids good riddance

Celebrity economist David McWilliams championed the demise of Fianna Fail and the Greens via Twitter with the pithy line: "They're gone, thank God!"

Gogarty down before the count

Colourful Green Party candidate and former TD Paul Gogarty set some sort of a new record when he conceded defeat at 9.52am yesterday -- before the votes had been fully counted. "Loads of 2, 3, 4, which is comforting, but not enough No 1s. I concede, with good grace" he said.

Only way is up for 'punished' party

Fianna Fail general secretary Sean Dorgan has described their party's collapse at the polls as a "punishment".

"People decided to send a strong message to Fianna Fail. It's understood and we have to learn from that," he said. Party leader Micheal Martin, who had injected considerable energy into the election, had said he was going to rebuild the party and that was probably going to be a two-election strategy.

Vote collapse drags funding down

A deeply indebted FF party now faces the cold reality of losing millions of euros in taxpayer funding following their record defeat.

Under current rules, all parties receive €13.6m of State funding per annum, which is not subject to tax. The monies are then allocated to the parties on the basis of the popular support they receive. In 2009, FF received €5.225m, which allowed it to spend €2m on staff and a further €500,000 on professional and legal fees. Labour, in contrast, received a far more modest €2.227m.

However, in the aftermath of the election result, it is likely that FF's allocation will be closer to that currently secured by Labour.

Such a decrease would cost FF more than €3m a year -- a disastrous income cut for the heavily indebted party.

Fine Gael breaks Dev's record

enda Kenny has overseen the greatest renaissance experienced by any Irish political party since de Valera created Fianna Fail. In 1927, de Valera built FF from no seats to an initial total of 44, whilst his former Sinn Fein party went from 44 seats to five. But, given that the vast majority of FF seats was SF personnel who switched sides the value of that achievement is somewhat devalued.

But Enda Kenny's achievement in increasing the FG seat total by more than 20 for the second election in a row, means he has surpassed de Valera's old record.

In contrast, despite his impressive last-ditch attempts to save as many of his party's seats as possible, FF leader Micheal Martin is poised to enter the political record books for a far less desirable reason.

Outside of SF in 1927, FG set the unwanted post-World War Two record in seat losses in 2002 where the party declined from 54 to 31 seats.

This was closely rivalled by the decline of Labour in 1997 from 33 to 17 whilst FF's greatest seat loss occurred in 1954 when de Valera lost 13 of their 65 seats. However, as FF stares down the barrel of 50 lost seats, Mr Martin is poised to experience a worse drubbing than de Valera's old SF party in 1927.

'Not a good day' for Cowen's old ally

"Sentimentally, I have seen the highs. Today, apparently it's going to be a low," said outgoing Fianna Fail TD John Maloney, who was Taoiseach Brian Cowen's running mate at the last election. However, he could afford to be somewhat philosophical about the reversal in his party's fortunes.

"That's the nature of politics. We have never ever claimed to own seats in Laois/Offaly, it has always been the people's choice. The verdict I feel from the tally is that it will not be a good day for Fianna Fail here in Laois/Offaly."

Mansergh rubbishes talk of 'wipeout'

Outgoing Fianna Fail junior minister Martin Mansergh has complained about RTE commentators using "inaccurate words" like "wipeout" to describe his party's dismal performance.

"This is not a wipeout on a Canadian conservative scale," he claimed, referring to that country's devastating 1993 election that saw the ruling conservative party go from a majority of 151 to just two seats.

"I imagine we will return a decent number of seats," he told RTE radio.

John Drennan, Andrea Byrne,

Daniel McConnell, Don Lavery

Sunday Independent

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