Labor Party wins Dublin West by-election as Fianna Fail fights back
Nulty takes Brian Lenihan’s seat as Fine Gael vote collapses
Ireland’s newest member of parliament has vowed to stand up for the ordinary Joe when he takes his seat in Dail Eireann.
Labor Party candidate Patrick Nulty is the man the people of Dublin West have chosen to replace the late Brian Lenihan as their representative.
Nulty was confirmed as the country’s newest deputy on Saturday morning as he finished ahead of Fianna Fail’s David McGuinness and surprise packet Ruth Coppinger of the Socialist Party on the fifth count.
After topping the first count, Nulty was eventually elected on a total of 17,636 votes, with McGuinness on 11,590. Coppinger was eliminated on the fourth count even though she had finished tied with McGuinness on 9,873 each after a rechecking of votes.
Returning officer John Fitzpatrick eliminated Coppinger under Section 122 of the Electoral Act, ruling that the person with the highest first preference vote goes through.
After his victory was confirmed, the 28-year-old Nulty vowed: “I will be a voice for the people. I will fight for equality and social justice.”
A local councillor, Nulty will now leave his job with the Focus Ireland charity organization to take his seat in the Irish parliament.
“This seat doesn’t belong to any individual or party, it belongs to the people of Dublin West,” added Nulty, survivor of an horrific house fire as a two-year-old.
“I am very pleased with the result Labour got. I said all through the campaign that I intended to be a principled, constructive voice within the Labor Parliamentary Party and I am going in to the Dail with a positive attitude.”
The win marked a significant breakthrough for the Labor Party as they became the first government party in almost 30 years to win an Irish by-election.
“This is hugely significant and is a great tribute to Pat Nulty, the party organisation in Dublin West and in particular to Joan Burton who already represents the constituency,” said party leader and deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore.
The election also marked a triumph of sorts for the Fianna Fail party even though the result now means they have no deputy at all in the greater Dublin area.
FF candidate McGuinness did poll 7,742 first preference votes for the party decimated in February’s general election.
“We are absolutely blown away by our performance,” said McGuinness. “Fianna Fail are fighting across this country and that fight starts now.”
The Dublin West by-election was a disaster for senior government partners Fine Gael however as candidate Eithne Loftus failed to woo the voters and only managed 5,263 first preference votes.
“At the end of the day, this is a local contest and I don’t see it as a permanent decline for Fine Gael but we, as a party locally and nationally, need to work out what went wrong,” said FG director of elections and Minister of State Brian Hayes.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, returned from the constituency for Fine Gael in the last general election, acknowledged the Fianna Fail comeback of sorts.
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