Sinn Fein is the country's most popular party, with 120,000 votes to spare. Those who voted for the republicans in their droves are concerned with the pressing issues of the present, such as housing.
The TDs they propelled into Leinster House say they are focused on the future. Yet several key figures who spent the past four years setting Sinn Fein on its path to success are part of its troubled past. They are considered key backroom figures in republican politics in Northern Ireland but, Sinn Fein being an all-Ireland party, their influence has extended on this side of the Border, too.
Sean Hughes is a former IRA commander from South Armagh who was reputedly a close associate of Thomas 'Slab' Murphy and is known as The Surgeon. He has been a key organiser for Sinn Fein. When turbulence broke out over allegations of intimidation, bullying and excessive control in several regional branches of the party, Hughes was one of those drafted in to smooth things over.
Another Northern man who was drafted in to settle internal disputes was Brian Tumilty, a key SF election strategist originally from Newry. He presided with two others on an internal panel in a dispute in Wicklow that resulted in three councillors being expelled. He was convicted in the early 1980s for possession of one of the weapons suspected of having been used in the Kingsmill massacre in 1976.
Martin Lynch is an ex-IRA prisoner and a former driver for Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who served as SF's head of human resources. His responsibilities included ensuring that staff and TDs paid themselves the average industrial wage and "volunteered" the rest to the party - including those working in Leinster House. (A policy that has since changed in 2016).
Bobby Storey, another former IRA figure from Belfast, is often referred to as a key part of Sinn Fein's kitchen cabinet in Belfast. The reach of his political influence in the Republic emerged during the controversy over Mairia Cahill's allegations that her IRA abuser was shielded by the republican movement. Storey emailed instruction to SF's elected representatives north and south of the Border on Mairia Cahill: "At a wider level, party activists should refrain from making any comment on social media sites or in any other way around the issue of the sexual abuse of Mairia Cahill. Such comments are both inappropriate and elements of the media will attempt to misuse or misinterpret any comment - as has already happened." Not one veered from his diktat. Sinn Fein's critics claimed the memo showed how the party's elected representatives take their orders from an unelected shadowy figure behind the scenes.
Padraic Wilson, from West Belfast, is another influential member of Sinn Fein's Northern kitchen cabinet. He was sentenced to 24 years for explosives offences in the early 1990s but released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. He was accused of presiding over an internal tribunal into Mairia Cahill's allegations against an IRA member. His involvement with the party is among the reasons Fianna Fail cited for refusing to enter into a coalition with Sinn Fein.
Ted Howell, who is in his early 70s and from Belfast, is a highly influential republican, a Sinn Fein negotiator over 20 years, and one of Gerry Adams's closest advisers. He kept out of the spotlight, even in Stormont. But his name has worked its way into political discourse not just in Stormont, but in Leinster House when he was cited as "evidence" that Sinn Fein takes its orders from unelected representatives. Emails disclosed to an inquiry into the "cash for ash" scandal in the North showed how the SF finance minister there, Martin O Muilleoir, emailed Howell to ask if he was "content" that he "sign off the business plan on Wednesday". "That is documentary evidence that Sinn Fein ministers seek approval and consent from 'senior republicans' when it comes to major decisions in government," Leo Varadkar said in the Dail.
During the election campaign, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said he "could never be sure" who he was dealing with were he to go into government with Sinn Fein. "Is it unelected officials in Belfast who rule the roost, who control the levers of power within that party?"
SF insists this is nonsense while Mary Lou McDonald famously declared: "Nobody's pulling my strings." The party has, on several occasions, welcomed former IRA prisoners into the SF fold, precisely because they have embraced the peace process.
When the party's Waterford poll-topper, David Cullinane, apologised for declaring "up the Republic, up the 'Ra and Tiocfaidh ar La" at a late-night victory speech, he said his comments were about the past, not the future: "The IRA is gone as everybody knows."
It is a little over four years since a report by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and MI5 found that a slimmed-down army council still existed and suggested that it held sway over Sinn Fein. "PIRA members believe that the Provisional army council oversees both PIRA and Sinn Fein with an overarching strategy - we judge this strategy has a wholly political focus."
Four months ago, the PSNI said its assessment of the relationship between the IRA and Sinn Fein "had not changed".