First the positives of the election
- Kevin Humphreys taking a second seat in Dublin South East. I've spent a lot of time on the doors with Kevin and it is great to see all that hard work pay off. What's even better is that we managed to get two seats on just over 25% of the vote.
- The slaughter of Fianna Fáil across the country. After 14 years of mismanagement the electorate finally gave them the kicking they deserve.
- Ciara Conway hanging on to Brian O'Shea's seat in Waterford. When Thomas Kyne retired in 1977 it took a few elections to win the seat back. Ciara taking it on the 1st attempt is wonderful.
- The electorate of Dublin North West rejecting right wing candidates across the board.
- Derek Nolan topping the poll in Galway West. Taking over from Michael D Higgins can never be the easiest task and with Catherine Connolly eating into your support base that job gets harder.
- The success of both SF and ULA candidates that shows there is an appetite for strong left wing politics in Ireland.
- Vote management breakdowns in constituencies potentially costing Labour second seats. Cork East, Dublin West and Dún Laoighre I'm looking at you in particular. Bacik and Nulty would have been great additions to the Dáil.
- The unstopable FG machine west of the Shannon.
- The re-election of a large group of parish pumpers, particularly in Kerry South.
- The success of SF and ULA shows that Labour needs to be careful about its left flank as there are now serious threats to it.
So where do we go from here? With probably 76 seats, FG are in the driving seat when it comes to forming a government. The obvious partner is Labour and I'm sure that will be the outcome in the end. The alternatives are cobbling together a group of independents or dealing with the devil in the guise of FF.
From the list of elected independents Ross, Lowry, Healy-Rae, and Grealish are the obvious cohort. After that you need to rope some of both McGraths, Wallace and Fleming. I would think it a step to far for O'Sullivan, Pringle, Murphy or Halligan to support an FG led government but then again look at the Gregory deal with Haughey for precedent.
Despite being natural bed-fellows, with only a squabble over some treaty about 90 years ago to differentiate between them, there is a strong argument for a reverse Tallaght strategy where by FF agree to support an FG minority government. However, this is the least likely outcome of this week's horse trading. It would be extremely difficult for Enda Kenny to accept this support after all his statements on a strong, stable government. It would also stop Michael Martin's plans for renewal of FF as he needs to distance the party as much as possible from the cuts and taxes that will be implemented.