Ireland is now a state for the Independents – after Shane Ross led the way home with the highest poll of the count to date as he romped to the Dail
Ross will be joined in Leinster House by former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry from Tipperary North, developer Mick Wallace in Wexford and Seamus Healy in Tipperary South.
All four topped the polls in their constituencies with Ross the stand-out candidate after he attracted an incredible
Ross hailed a seismic shift in Irish politics and told RTÉ: “The voters here in my constituency and with their support for independents all across the country are saying we want change and we want radical change.
“This isn’t just about people who didn’t want to vote for Fianna Fáil but instead suggests that tribal politics in Ireland is under siege and, thank God, maybe it will be in the months and years to come.
“This is an extraordinary day in Irish politics and the number of votes for me is daunting, it shows an amazing and serous need for change in Ireland.”
A former Fine Gael candidate in Wicklow, Ross was adamant that he has no interest in re-joining the party and will only support them in government as an independent if they support his ‘radical’ plans.
Lowry took 14,104 first preferences in his Tipperary stronghold while in the South of the same county, Healy walked into the Dail on the third count with a total 11,265, 924 votes over the quota.
Soccer nut Mick Wallace insisted he will fly the flag for All-Ireland and not just for Wexford when he takes his seat on March 9th.
“I do not want to be part of any attempt by Fine Gael to form a government with independent candidates,” Wallace told reporters.
“I’ve been involved in the community of Wexford for 20 years and I have been talking about this for years so it was time and I went out there and put myself up for election.
“I didn’t make any promises on the doorstep and said he wouldn’t fix potholes or help people dodge hospital or housing queues. But I said if I got in then I’d represent the people at a national and local level.”
Labour’s deputy leader Joan Burton had the honor of becoming the first member of the new Dail when she topped the poll in Dublin West – where outgoing Finance Minister Brian Lenihan just about held onto his seat.
Burton, finance spokesperson for Labour, was elected on the first count after amassing a massive 9,627 votes.
She was subsequently joined in the Dail by Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar and socialist candidate Joe Higgins with Lenihan left to sweat it out for a probable fourth seat.
“Labour has had a very good day, my colleagues have done very well and I am looking forward to having a lot of new colleagues in the Dail,” said Bruton.
Elected on the third count, Higgins warned the incoming Fine Gael-Labour coalition that they face the same problems that brought Fianna Fail down in this election.
“The critical thing is how can we build a new movement of the left and the socialist alternative to represent working class people and the youth,” said Higgins, ready to form a new left wing alliance in Kildare Street.
“We will begin to make a new party to fill that vacuum.”
The Green Party has been decimated in the 2011 General Election – with the junior coalition partners in the last government unlikely to have any seats in the new Dail.
Outgoing TDs Paul Gogarty and Ciaran Cuffe had already conceded defeat before the six o’clock news on RTE television.
Leader John Gormley and junior minister Eamon Ryan were hanging on to outside hopes of retaining their seats in Dublin where only Trevor Sargent had any chance of returning to Leinster House.
“John and I have little chance of holding our seats,” admitted Ryan while party colleague Mary White all but gave up on her seat in Carlow-Kilkenny.
Former Minister Cuffe admitted that: “The Faustian pact with Fianna Fáil has come back to haunt the party. However, I still believe the party performed well in government and will recover its standing in time.”
One of the youngest candidates in the 2011 Election has failed to make his mark on the ballot paper – after Dylan Haskins polled 1383 first preferences, less than half the votes of his number of friends on his campaign Facebook page in Dublin South East.
Libyan General Election candidate Hussein Hamed won’t be took bothered by his poor showing in Dublin South – he’s busy mourning the death of his step brother in the conflict back home so the fact he took just 273 votes.
Bookmaker Paddy Power decided enough was enough on Saturday afternoon and started to pay out bets on a Fine Gael-Labour coalition after less than 15 seats in the new Dail had been filled.