Part 2: Election diary from Ireland
Cathal Dervan brings you the latest on the ground in Ireland
Fianna Fail and the Greens suffered a General Rejection as Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein were the big winners in the 2011 General Election.
The stage is now set for a Fine Gael-Labour coalition with Sinn Fein even in line to become the biggest opposition party after the decimation of the Fianna Fail vote.
While Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny celebrated winning four of the five seats available in his Mayo constituency, his Fianna Fail counterpart Micheal Martin was left to pick up the pieces after nationwide annihilation and at best just over 20 eventual seats, down from 77.
Tanaiste Mary Coughlan and Mary Hanafin were fighting for their political lives on Saturday evening as counting continued with the likes of Mary O’Rourke, John Curran, Barry Andrews,
Sean Haughey and Conor Lenihan already consigned to the Dail scrapheap.
Things were worse for the Greens with Trevor Sergant their only remaining hope for a seat at seven o’clock Irish time.
“This is a phenomenal result and day for Fine Gael,” said Taoiseach elect Enda Kenny.
“The people have spoken and the people have given us a mandate which we will go through with now. Their trust will not be misplaced.
“My ministers and our TDs will hit the ground running when we go into the Dail on March 9th. We will hit the ground running with our five point plan and start implementing it immediately.
“We have promised to fix the things that have gone wrong with this country and we will. The pledges we have given, we will follow through with.”
The bargaining has already begun in the background as Fine Gael and Labour jostle for position within the new and expected Coalition.
Front bench spokesman Leo Varadkar was the first FG candidate elected in Dublin and he said:
“One thing that is absolutely certain is that Fine Gael will be the largest party in the Dáil and any coalition will have to reflect that. A coalition with Labour is now likely.”
Richard Bruton added: “Fine Gael and Labour formed a joint platform in 2007 so you expect it should be possible even in difficult times to negotiate a deal.”
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore will probably land the role of Tanaiste in the expected Coalition with
Labour’s national organizer Pat Magnier claiming the party will be in position to command six cabinet posts.
“We expect to be in government, that is the most likely outcome on what we have seen in the counts so far,” declared leader Gilmore after Labour’s most successful election ever.
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