‘Shindependents Day’ as political landscape is transformed

From Irish Republican News

“Something profound has happened in the people’s attitudes to
politics,” said Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, as results
came in across the 26 Counties on Saturday.

“Sinn Fein 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 Fein won 81, Independents and
Others) 77, Fianna Fail 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
Fein will now almost certainly be on a par with the two traditional
conservative parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael — a radical rebalancing
of politics in the 26 County state, which for years treated Sinn Fein 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 Fein 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.

He said: “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 Fein 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,” he said, also referring to results in separate
elections in the north of the Ireland.

“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,” he said.

Adams thanked those who had worked to deliver the result for Sinn Fein,
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 Fein 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 Fein is here and Sinn Fein is
here to stay,” he said.

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said he accepted the public’s
“frustration and anger” at coalition policy was being reflected in the
poll results. Mr Kenny said “it’s not a good day” for his government and
noted it had been an especially “hard day” for Labour Party leader Eamon
Gilmore, whose party has been obliterated at local and European level.

He said the electorate had said: “you need to do better”. “We will
redouble our efforts over the next two years to prove politics can
actually work,” he added.

“And the end of the day it’s all about our people. They have spoken
yesterday (and) the consequences of their decisions will continue for
the next couple of years.”

The Labour Party, founded by Easter Rising martyr James Connolly, has
been virtually wiped out at national and local level. However, party
leader Eamon Gilmore has defied calls for his resignation, although
accepting a need for a “re-evaluation”.

LITTLE CHANGE IN NORTH

Meanwhile, counting has concluded in the Six Counties local elections,
where Sinn Fein’s support has held up amid a small decline in the
nationalist vote. Notable successes for the party on Saturday evening
was the success of Niall O Donnghaile in holding onto a seat in a
redrawn east Belfast ward, and in securing five of the six council seats
in the Collin ward, at the expense of Maire Drumm of rival socialist
republican party eirigi.

There were cavalcades in Derry earlier following confirmation of the
election onto the Derry-Strabane council of Gary Donnelly, of the 32
County Sovereignty Movement. Mr Donnelly, a prominent member of the 32
County Sovereignty Movement who stood as an Independent candidate,
headed the poll in the Moor District Electoral Area (DEA). and was
elected after the first count.

Republican socialist Paul Gallagher was also elected onto the same
council from Strabane, after standing as an independent. Gallagher very
narrowly failed to win a seat last time out after contesting the same
ward for the Irish Republican Socialist Party last time out.

The SDLP suffered a notable decline in its vote, and its difficulties
were reflected in a bruising exchange among party members at Templemore
Sports Complex on Saturday morning. The two men involved in the fracas
had to be escorted from the building by security.

Meanwhile, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has revealed that his party is in
discussions about an electoral pact with the Ulster Unionist Party ahead
of next year’s Westminster and Stormont elections.

Of all the Six County parties, the DUP suffered the worst decline in its
vote. “That’s because of the splintering of the unionist vote and that
becomes more critical when you get to an Assembly election,” he said,
referring to increased competition from Jim Allister’s TUV and the UKIP.

Counting is continuing in the 26 Counties tomorrow morning, and from
Monday morning north of the border.

Source: Irish Republican News

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