Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein acknowledges ‘difficult day’ with local election losses in Republic

The party’s three European Parliament seats also look in doubt.

Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald speaks to the media as votes are counted (Niall Carson/PA)
Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald speaks to the media as votes are counted (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein is facing challenging election results in Ireland, with dozens of losses projected across local councils.

There is also doubt over whether the party will be able to hold on to its three outgoing MEPs in the Irish Republic, with Dublin candidate Lynn Boylan having a nervous wait.

The party is expected to suffer council losses in Dublin city, as well as Cork city, Galway, Limerick, Offaly and Cavan.

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Counting continues in the local election at the City West convention centre in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Among the electoral casualties on Sunday was Belfast-born Sarah Holland who failed to retake her seat on South Dublin County Council.

She was first elected in 2014, and served as Mayor of South Dublin in 2015.

Ms Holland is the daughter of greengrocer Harry Holland, 65, who was murdered in Belfast in 2007.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill expressed her commiserations to Ms Holland, tweeting: “Disappointed for you Sarah. Keep your head up, you will be back”.

An exit poll commissioned by RTE forecasts that Sinn Fein’s vote share in the local government election could be 12%.

That would represent a drop of three percentage points from the 15% support it won at the local government election in 2014.

Dublin TD Louise O’Reilly said she did not see the drop in vote share coming.

She shied away from analysing the developing situation on Sunday morning, saying it is something the party will examine in detail afterwards.

She told RTE: “We are going to have to analyse what went wrong.

“It’s a difficult day (for the candidates).”

However, the party is likely to be buoyed by the expected election of one of its new candidates, former MMA fighter Paddy Holohan on South Dublin County Council.

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Sinn Fein candidate and former MMA fighter Paddy ‘The Hooligan’ Holohan with his son Seamus at the count in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

On Saturday, Sinn Fein president Mary-Lou McDonald said she expects tight contests in many constituencies, with final seats likely to come down to handfuls of votes.

“That’s the nature of local elections,” she said. “I am not exactly sure where we are going to land, we will have a lot of counting and a lot of long nights ahead of us.”

However Ms McDonald was defiant when asked whether her leadership is at risk.

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Mary Lou McDonald speaks to the media as ballot boxes are opened and counting begins in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

She said: “It’s easy to lead and to be a political activist when things go your way and when the surge is on. Those are great days, but you also have to be ready and fit for purpose when things are more challenging.

“Notwithstanding our disappointment, Sinn Fein remains a very strong organisation.”

The elections come following a disappointing performance for the party in the 2018 presidential election.

Party candidate Liadh Ni Riada attracted 93,987 votes, finishing in fourth place.

It was a significant drop from the 2011 presidential election in which the late Martin McGuinness scored 243,030 votes, finishing third.

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