Updated at 8pm
SINN FÉIN DEPUTY leader Mary Lou McDonald says her party will try to form a “progressive government”, adding that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael don’t have “a divine right to govern”.
It all depended on the numbers, she said, but she’s still hoping it’s possible.
From late last night, it was clear Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would be the largest parties in the 32nd Dail, with Sinn Féin in third place.
McDonald topped the poll in Dublin Central with 24.4% of the vote but was just shy of being elected on the first count.
It took longer than her supporters expected before the TD finally got over the line. After a number of false dawns she was elected on the sixth count at the RDS just before 7.30pm.
After skipping the fifth count (word was she wouldn’t get over the line, and she’d had to do the traditional ‘shrug and walk away’ in front of a bank of reporters and snappers several times at this stage) the Dubliner was flanked by fellow TDs and SF voters as she awaited her inevitable election.
Her supporters burst into song at several points as the wait continued, while a woman hovered in the background with a bouquet.
Speaking in the immediate aftermath of her win, McDonald said the government had effectively been sacked by the people.
Such a result was hardly a surprise, she said, “given the anger, the disappointment and the deep disenchantment that was out there” in respect of Fine Gael and Labour.
The people have now put everybody on notice. Do not make promises that you cannot keep. Do not mislead the electorate. Don’t commit to protecting people and then abandon them as the Labour Party did – and Sinn Féin is not the Labour Party.
In her comments following the first count at the Dublin 4 centre, McDonald insisted her party was serious about government.
What we need to see firstly is all the votes counted and the final tally of seats. But be very sure that we are very serious about ideally bringing together a progressive group of TDs and a progressive government if the figures allow it.
Sinn Féin won’t be “propping up” Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, she said.
Speaking to RTÉ, she added that the water charges issue showed how a government with a large majority could do whatever it wanted.
The last five years where Fine Gael and Labour had a record mandate, the largest overall majority in the history of the State. That was very unhelpful. I think it made them arrogant, they were literally unassailable, they could literally do what they wished and they literally did.
“Yes a government has to be formed. For us in Sinn Féin we want a government that is progressive, that serves the majority of citizens. Not the minority.
I hope that such a government is possible. There should be no sense in Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael that they have some kind of divine right to govern, they don’t.
There are two more seats left to fill in Dublin Central – with Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe, Gary Gannon of the Social Democrats, Fianna Fáil’s Mary Fitzpatrick, former Dublin lord mayor Christy Burke and ‘Gregory candidate’ TD Maureen O’Sullivan all in the mix.