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09 June 2024

Sinn Fein will not be satisfied with electoral performance – minister

09 June 2024

Ireland’s Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said Sinn Fein will not be satisfied with its electoral performance, as the main opposition party suffers a set back in its bid to be in the next government.

Despite polling highly over the last four years, Sinn Fein has not gained the surge in votes that was predicted in the local elections.

Mr O’Brien said that “this was a party that was apparently just going to waltz into Government”.

“It’s obviously clear that we’ve parts of the country where they’re in single digits, Dublin probably at 11 (or) 12%. They can’t be satisfied with that performance,” he told RTE Radio 1.

“Of course, they’ll make gains because they’re coming from a very low base of about 9%.

“I don’t think the main opposition party can be satisfied with a gain like that.”

Mr O’Brien was asked if the “positive results” for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in the Europe elections means that the Irish general election should be held earlier than March next year, but he disagreed.

“We have been very clear. We’ve an important budget to do in the autumn, we’ve important legislation to pass like the Planning and Development Bill which is advancing through the Dail,” he said.

“I expect as the three leaders have said, the Taoiseach (Simon Harris), Tanaiste (Micheal Martin) and Minister (Eamon) Ryan, that the Government will do its course.

“We have important work to do. Yes, of course, the results here today and for government parties are good because we want good councillors running our local authorities and representing our people.

“The European elections obviously we’ll know later on today as well.

“I expect the Government to see out its term.”

Sinn Fein TD David Cullinane said the party is “not where we want to be”.

Obviously we expected to do better, I’m not saying that it was a good result for Sinn Fein, of course I’m not

Indications show that the party has won around 11% of first preference votes based on declarations so far in the local elections.

The party won 24.5% in the 2020 general election and had been polling above 30% until recent polls indicated a slide in their support.

Mr Cullinane warned against underestimating the resilience of the Sinn Fein party and said some council seats would “come down to very complicated transfers”.

“Obviously, we expected to do better, I’m not saying that it was a good result for Sinn Fein, of course I’m not,” he said.

“Absolutely there was no complacency. When we don’t have a good day we accept it.

“We will have to ask the questions you asked me – why did we not get the votes that we expected to get?”

Mr Ryan, the Green Party leader, said he believes that the incumbent MEP Ciaran Cuffe remains “in the mix” for a seat in the Dublin constituency.

However, he has ruled out party colleague Pauline O’Reilly gaining a seat in Midlands-North-West.

“For the last couple of years, there’s been a lot of attacks on our party, a lot of myths, untruths that we’re not in supporting rural Ireland. We are. It’s our first consideration,” Mr Ryan added.

“It’s not an easy environment to be in but that comes with politics so you have to try and win the argument back and try and explain why this is going to be the right transition for all of Ireland.

“Pauline I don’t think is in line for running for a seat but we are keen for her to do as best she can.

“We are an all-island, right across the country, party.

“We ran 130 local election campaigns and three really good European election campaigns. You don’t win every time, but I think it’s a hard thing to run for election. It’s a real test for character when you see your vote and it doesn’t come home.”

Meanwhile, government minister Patrick O’Donovan said that Fine Gael has returned an “awful lot of people”.

The Minister for Further and Higher Education added that there are a few “unfortunately” who will not make it over the line.

“In my own electoral area we are getting close to 40%, the one next to me we are getting close to 38%,” he added.

“They’re very, very rural. So we must be doing something right in rural areas where a councillor who stood in the last election has tripled his vote, a 300% increase.”

Asked about the possibility of general election taking place soon, he said: “It never fails to surprise me that the king is dead, long live the king. Nobody is really looking at yesterday’s results in detail.

“Before we start rushing into deciding you know, there’s ballot boxes here that the hinges are still warm from being open and we’re talking about a general election.

“I would like if there could be a bit of narrative as to why is that? The people of Ireland rejected unanimously across many counties the narrative of darkness and the narrative of absolutely everything’s wrong and the failed state and all of that, they rejected all of that.

“At the end of it, they’re looking at the United States and the United Kingdom and Irish people have decided the centre has not done us too badly over the last 102 years and it is this time to stick with the centre. That’s the story of this election.”

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