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The Parties

Fine Gael: BECAME the biggest party in the country in the general election, as Enda Kenny completed a nine-year fightback from the disaster of the 2002 meltdown.

Star performer: Michael Noonan -- the comeback king was a commanding presence during the election campaign and became a stabilising force as Finance Minister.

Worst performer: Peter Mathews (right) -- somebody needs to remind him that Shane Ross is the Independent in Dublin South and he is a Government TD.

Best moment: Mr Kenny captured the mood with his emotive response to the Cloyne Report.

Worst moment: Picking Gay Mitchell as the presidential election candidate.

2012 look ahead: Implementing the policies and reforms they were elected to do.

Labour Party

NEARLY doubled its seat numbers in the general election, which threatened to creep away at times. Eamon Gilmore took the party into power as Tanaiste with five full cabinet portfolios.

Star performer: Ruairi Quinn -- served as party's director of elections and has made the right soundings as Education Minister.

Worst performer: Willie Penrose -- demanded to be in Cabinet and then walked away over a local issue.

Best moment: Michael D Higgins being elected president.

Worst moment: "Gilmore for Taoiseach" and "Frankfurt's way or Labour's way".

2012 look ahead: Sticking with the plan and not being distracted by internal dissent.

Fianna Fail

LOST about three-quarters of its seats in the general election battering, returning with just 20 TDs, then suffered the tragic loss of Brian Lenihan and had infighting over the Seanad and presidential elections.

Star performer: Michael McGrath -- most prominent of the new generation, taking up the finance portfolio but not yet grabbing the public's attention.

Worst performer: Brian Cowen.

Best moment: Second place in Dublin West by-election.

Worst moment: February 25, 2011 -- the day the electorate took their retribution.

2012 look ahead: Accepting the comeback will take time.

Sinn Fein

ALMOST trebled the number of TDs as Gerry Adams moved south, bringing in a much-needed crop of young TDs and establishing itself as a force on the opposition benches.

Star performer: Pearse Doherty -- replaced Eamon Gilmore as the angriest voice in the opposition.

Worst performer: Gerry Adams -- no wonder he never took up his seat in the House of Commons.

Best moment: Arriving into the Dail with 14 TDs.

Worst moment: Martin McGuinness refusing to apologise for IRA atrocities.

2012 look ahead: Facing the challenge of passing the torch to the younger generation.


AGAIN their numbers increased substantially, with a variety of different blocks. After being left out of the coalition equation, organised themselves into a group.

Star performer: Catherine Murphy (right) -- shows her more erratic colleagues how it's done with a proper understanding of national issues and hard graft.

Worst performer: Mick Wallace -- the developer-turned-politician has added little substance to the Dail.

Best moment: Combining to oppose the Dail inquiries referendum.

Worst moment: The Miss Piggy incident.

2012 look ahead: Building credibility.

Irish Independent