The General Election 2011 : The Results by Annette J Dunlea
Angry Irish voters went to the polls last Friday,and showed their anger by voting in a new coalition government. There was a huge shift of political power away from Fianna Fail. 3.2 million voters were eligible to cast their ballots with 550 plus candidates in 43 constituencies for 166 seats.The Irish did not strike like Spain but held their anger until election day and voted their government out of power.Fine Gael is topping the polls with The Labour Party as the second most popular party. Micheál Martin has congratulated Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore on their election results at the polls.
There was an national turnout was 70.1%. 1st preference votes were: Fianna Gael: 36.1%, Labour 19.4%, Fianna Fail 17.4%, Independents 12.6%, Sinn Finn 9.9% and Green Party 1.8%. In the 31st Dáil : 70 seats at least will be Fine Gael, Labour will have over 36 seats, Fianna Fáil will secure over 18 seats, Sinn Féin have secured 13 seats and 17 plus goes to Other Parties.
Some of the highlights of the election was the shift in power to new parties and the losses of Fianna Fail changing political power in Ireland since the establishment of our state. Labour candidate Joan Burton was elected to the Dáil from Dublin West. She was the first deputy returned to Dáil Éireann.In Dublin North Central, Fianna Fáil’s Sean Haughey conceded defeat, ending a 54-year-long family connection with the Dáil.In Dún Laoghaire, Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore was elected on the first count.In Dublin South, Independent candidate Shane Ross was elected after the first count. In Donegal South West Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty was elected on the first count with 14,262 votes, beginning a very good election for Sinn Féin.Fianna Fáil’s low vote in Dublin became apparent as only one TD : Brian Lenihan returned to the Dail.In Louth, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams was elected with 15,072 votes.
Fianna Fáil Party leader Micheál Martin was elected in Cork South Central on the first count. He topped the poll.Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny swept to the top of the poll in Mayo and was elected on the first count.
In Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews, Minister for Children, was excluded after count seven.In Donegal South West, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan was eliminated after the fourth count.The high-profile losses continued with Pat Carey and Mary White losing their seats.Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis and Labour’s John Lyons were elected after the seventh and final count.More good news for Sinn Féin after they won a seat in Meath West with Peadar Tóibín elected on the fifth count.In Dublin Central, the constituency of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin was elected on the eighth count.In Waterford, Labour’s Ciara Conway was elected – the constituency’s first female TD in 50 years.In Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett took a final seat, eliminating Fianna Fáil Minister Mary Hanafin.24 constituencies were left without a Fianna Fáil TD, including Waterford, Tipperary, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Meath and Kerry.Fine Gael Director of Elections Phil Hogan predicted that the party was on course for around 77 seats when all constituencies declared. David Davin-Power reported that Fine Gael said they would start work on forming a coalition from Monday.The polling had confirmed the earlier predictions that Fine Gael would be the largest party by some way, Labour and Sinn Féin would have their best-ever election, Fianna Fáil would have its worst result and the Greens would be wiped out as a party in the Dáil
In Cork East: there was a 68.7% turnout of the total 83,651 electorate. Elected were: David Stanton,Fine Gael 17.6%, Seán Sherlock, Labour 20.8%, Tom Barry,Fine Gael 10.2% and Sandra Mc Lellan, Sinn Fein 11.1%. In Cork North Central there was ,a 70% turnout from the 75,302 electorate. Elected were: Kathleen Lynch, Labour, 14.7%, Jonathan O’ Brien, Sinn Fein, 15.2%, Billy Kelleher , Fianna Fail, 15.1% and Dara Murphy, Fine Gael, 12.7%. In Cork North West there was a 73.5% turnout of the 62,870 electorate. Michael Creed, Fine Gael 22.1%, Michael Moynihan, Fianna Fail, 19.3% and Aine Collins, Fine Gael, 17.2% of votes. In Cork South Central there was a 71.8% turnout of 90,044 citizens. Elected were Jerry Buttimer, Fine Gael 1.1%, Ciaran Lynch, Labour 13.2%, Simon Coveney, Fine Gael 14.8%, Micheal Martin, Fianna Fail 16.7% and Michael Mc Grath Fianna Fail,11.3%. In Cork South West there was 74.1% turnout of an 62,174 electorate. Elected were Jim Daly, Fine Gael, 19.4%, Noel Harrington , Fine Gael,15.1% and Michael Mc Carthy,Labour with 14.3% of votes.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said it’s had been a “difficult day” for Fianna Fáil, amid a party meltdown at the polls which left senior TDS fighting for their seats in The Dail and Fine Gael are set to head into government. Among those to lose their seats were Tánaiste Mary Coughlan in Donegal South-West, Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin in Dún Laoghaire and Michael Ahern.Fianna Fáil’s Michael Ahern lost his seat in Cork East after 29 years as a TD. Micheál Martin, Fianna Fáil leader, was returned in his constituency of Cork South-Central.Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea said he was very glad to be one of the few survivors of the party and managed to retain his seat. He said it had been a very difficult campaign, on the back of very difficult decisions which had to be taken by the Government. In Dublin West, Brian Lenihan secured his seat. Former junior coalition partner, the Greens, suffered heavy losses and leader John Gormley said it was a sad day for the party.”We have suffered a major defeat, but the party will regroup but we will continue. We’re a party with a set of beliefs and values and a vision for the future,” he said.
Senior Fine Gael candidates have been re-elected :Alan Shatter, Olivia Mitchell and Peter Matthews. As was Shane Ross and Labour’s Alex White took the two seats in the 31st Dail. Edna Kenny said: ‘People have made their choice. This was a democratic revolution at the ballot box. The priority is for a stable and strong government.’The chasm opened between people and government has got to be breeched.’That also means building our reputation at home and abroad.’Edna Kenny was elected on the first count in Mayo with 17,472 votes, well above the quota required of 12,340. We don’t have any time to lose, we don’t have any hour to waste.’The country can’t borrow money and the banks can’t borrow money. We’re up to our necks here.’I do think that people need to have explained to them the scale of the mess that’s here.’The sin of the last Government was that they did not tell the people what their progress or what their lack of progress was.’Mr Kenny said Fine Gael would not waste any time in putting a government together.’We will look at whatever options there are for the formation of a government and we will get on with that very quickly.’I don’t want a situation where this will be dragged out. We don’t want the wrong signals of delay going to European governments and beyond.’
“The lesson from this general election is that government should never remove themselves from the people,” he said. “The people have voted with vigour and strength and they have given their answer as to the remove the government placed itself in over the last number of years.”said Enda Kenny. Mr.Kenny welcomed the ‘democratic revolution’ .Edna refused to comment on the make-up of the next government, but described it as a “great day for the Fine Gael party”.Mr Kenny said his first priority was to tell the world that Ireland was now set on a new track under his Fine Gael party, whose focus is to create jobs.”I intend to send out a clear message around the world that this country has given my party a massive endorsement to provide stable and strong government with a clear agenda,” he said. “That’s absolutely critical.”Fine Gael look set to enter a coalition government with the Labour party, whose leader Eamon Gilmore was elected on the first count in Dún Laoghaire.
Fine Gael Finance Spokesman Michael Noonan has said Enda Kenny is the ‘man for the times’ and will be an ideal Taoiseach in a coalition arrangement.Speaking after securing 13,291 votes in Limerick City, Mr Noonan said a Fine Gael-led government would ‘work every day’ to get the economy sorted out.He said a stable government would assist in restoring confidence in Ireland and throughout the economy.On the formation of the next government, Noonan said Independent TDs can be ‘high maintenance’.He said a stable government with a comfortable majority would be preferable.This was a dramatic election. Fine Gael is to lead the next government. Labour, Sinn Fein and Independents had major gains.