‘Shindependents Day’ as Irish political landscape is transformed.
We congratulate our comrades in Sinn Féin for their excellent performance in recent council and European elections. The party won the largest number of first preference votes in the north’s local government elections, while it secured the highest number of councillors across the 26 counties. Sinn Féin now also presents four MEPS to the European parliament.
We reproduce extracts from various articles to summarise the events.
‘Shindependents Day’ as political landscape is transformed
“Something profound has happened in the people’s attitudes to politics,” said Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, as results came in across the 26 counties on Saturday.
“Sinn Féin has not has this strength since 1918,” said party leader Gerry Adams, recalling the original election under the leadership of Arthur Griffith, which inspired the struggle for national independence from British rule.
The party made incredible gains on city councils in Dublin and Cork, and is set to be the dominant party on both councils. In Limerick and Waterford, and in towns and rural areas across the 26 counties, the party doubled and tripled its representation or broke entirely new ground.
There was also a huge increase in support for independent candidates and the small left-wing parties. With 292 out of 949 seats filled by the end of counting on Saturday night, Sinn Féin won 81, Independents and Others 77, Fianna Fáil 76, Fine Gael 47, and Labour 11.
After months of fractious debates and contentious media coverage, the polls were largely borne out, although the result has still deeply shocked the political establishment. In the next Dublin parliament, Sinn Féin will now almost certainly be on a par with the two traditional conservative parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael — a radical rebalancing of politics in the 26-county state, which for years treated Sinn Féin as an irrelevant ‘other’.
The question now is how these three parties with a historic distaste for each other can form a government after the next general election in 2016, and what kind of coalition, if any, can emerge.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said the day marked a “step change in politics”. Speaking at the Dublin West by-election count in Citywest this evening, where Paul Donnelly came very close to winning a seat, he said that the party was open to the possibility of coalition government.
We need two things, one is to be in government — a mandate — the other one is an agreed programme for government. The second could be more challenging than the first. The other parties are now wedded to conservatism, austerity.
He said that the party wants to see a “realignment of politics” which he hopes would be “accelerated after this election”.
He said he did not know if his recent arrest and interrogation by the PSNI had an impact on the Sinn Féin result.
Mr Adams said:
What we do know is it galvanised our own activists and I would like to think that the way that we responded to those events was positive and that that may have helped.
Mr Adams said that he heard some members of the coalition condescendingly dismissing Sinn Fein’s gains as “the people giving us a scolding”.
He says what has happened is that the people have given “profound notice that that want to quit this type of politics”.
We’re the largest party in Derry, in Belfast, in Mid-Ulster and perhaps now in Dublin and Meath.
I keep stressing in my interviews, we want to use our mandate wisely, people are hurting. It’s what I’m hearing when I talk to people. I would appeal to people who seek change. I’d appeal to people to join the party, we’re here to build a democratic republican party across the island of Ireland.
Adams thanked those who had worked to deliver the result for Sinn Féin, but admitted there wasn’t the “resources, infrastructure or capacity” to run the number of candidates or scale of campaign he would have wanted. However, he said Sinn Féin will continue to build from their result.
I think we have been mandated to change, this is a change of the political landscape in this state. Sinn Féin is here and Sinn Féin is here to stay.
Sinn Féin singing as it elects fourth MEP
Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy has just become the party’s fourth MEP after being elected after seven counts in a marathon count in Castlebar, County Mayo.
As the new totals were announced, finally confirming he had passed the quota, supporters cheered and held his hands aloft. As the presiding officer deemed him elected, he was hoisted up on shoulders and lusty singing broke out among his Monaghan-based team.
In advance of his election as member of the European parliament for the Midlands-North-West constituency, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams hailed the election of the party’s first male male MEP. “Quite an achievement,” he tweeted.
Mr Carthy’s surplus will now decide the recipient of the fourth and final seat in the constituency, which is likely to go to Sligo-based independent incumbent Marian Harkin. That result could incredibly see the three establishment parties deprived of three out of the four seats in Ireland’s largest Euro constituency.
Sinn Féin sings
On Monday night, Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada was elected as MEP for Ireland South. She was elected on the fourth round of counting that only concluded this evening, two days after counting began.
The returning officer had barely announced the result when Sinn Féin and the O Riada clan, one of the most acclaimed traditional music families in the country, starting singing in close harmony.
Brother Peadar produced an accordion and members of a traditional choir gathered round and performed a rendition of ‘Mo Gille Mear’, a song with deep personal connections to the O Riada family. Peadar said:
That was originally a recruiting song in the Gaelic nation 300 years ago. And when my father Sean died, I started using it as an anthem to try and draw us together as a community.
Corkwoman Ms Ní Riada was elected on the fourth count with 132,590 votes, nearly nine hours after Fianna Fáil poll topper Brian Crowley.
The former Irish television producer was virtually unknown outside arts and culture circles up until a few months ago.
She thanked “every single person” who voted for her and said that her election was a victory for the ordinary people of Ireland.
Speaking from the count centre, she said there was a “better, fairer alternative” to the politics of austerity and cuts.
My election is a victory for ordinary people who have suffered so much under the regressive policies pushed by the European Commission and implemented with such relish by successive governments here at home.
Diarmuid O’Flynn of Ballyhea protest group narrowly failed to secure election in the face of careful vote management by Fine Gael, which secured two seats in the South constituency. O’Flynn led a campaign which marched weekly against the 28 billion euro ‘bondholder bailout’ of international investors and speculators who held stakes in Irish banks.
Ms Ní Riada said the Dublin government and MEPs had failed to lift the “toxic banking debt” off the shoulders of the Irish people.
This is an injustice and it must be addressed and addressed genuinely — not just kicking the debt down the road to be endured by future generations. It is not our debt and it is not the debt of our children and grandchildren.
In the north, all three outgoing European MPs were re-elected for another term after another a lengthy count in Belfast, and almost five days after polling took place.
On Monday evening, Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson was declared elected after she topped the poll and reached the quota. Giving her acceptance speech a day after she was elected, Ms Anderson noted that Sinn Féin was on its way to taking four seats across the island of Ireland and hailed the party’s success.
The voices of the voters have been heard throughout Ireland, they have endorsed the Sinn Féin message that there is a fair way. The Sinn Féin result is part of a national story reflecting the growth of support for Sinn Féin’s strategy for change. There will be a national Sinn Féin team of MEPs going to Europe who will put Ireland first — north, south, east and west.