There were jubilant scenes – and some not so jubilant scenes – in the RDS this afternoon, as the Dublin Bay North recount was finally announced, resulting in wins for Sinn Fein’s Denise Mitchell and two Independents, Tommy Broughan and Finian McGrath. On the slightly less happy end of the spectrum was Labour minister, Aodhan Ó Ríordáin, another victim of the anti-government backlash that has utterly decimated Labour.
Formerly in possession of 37 seats, Labour are currently sitting on 6 and will now only retain their speaking privileges in the Dail if Willie Penrose wins his seat in Longford-Westmeath. After one recount, Penrose was found to be just two votes ahead of his immediate rival, Fine Gael’s James Bannon, who subsequently ordered - and was granted - a second recount, which is still underway at time of writing.
This may be the worst time for Labour politicians since that one time one of them was in a car for two hours, but for all the anti-coalition sentiment that has been bandied about, Fine Gael’s 30% reduction on their seats still sees them entrenched as the biggest party in Ireland with 59 places in the Dail. One might also consider it curious, perhaps even depressing, that Fianna Fail have done so well in the midst of this anti-government swing, suggesting the average Irish protest voter doesn’t have a particularly strong political memory. All of which leads to something of an uneasy vacuum of power, considering the two parties would make for fairly strained partners, and their leaders even more so. It should also be noted that, when polled about either Enda Kenny or Michael Martin, the people of Ireland really do seem to dislike the idea of either of them being named Taoiseach.
In other news, Independents and smaller parties have fared pretty well, with nearly 20% of all votes, although that number obviously encompasses many vastly different issues and platforms. The likes of People Before Profit AAA and the Social Democrats did grab a few scalps to hearten and encourage their base, but happier still are Sinn Fein, who have seen a steady increase in their support as they continue the march toward political acceptability south of the border. If they stand by their pledge to refuse a coalition, they will form a large tranche of the opposition bench.
Lastly, poor old Renua haven’t secured a single seat for any of their 26 candidates. Less than a year after their formation, Lucinda Creighton’s plucky posse of purple politicos, have already shut down their website and, well, we don’t expect those constituency offices to last much longer.