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At last

No TDs for days, then three in a minute - rollercoaster of emotions at a crazy count in Dublin Bay North

It was jubilation for three candidates, and total desolation for Labour’s Aodhán Ó Riordáin. / YouTube

AND THEN IT was over. Not bar the shouting though, there was still plenty of that going on.

After four long, hard days of counting it all came to an end in a flurry – three TDs elected on the 15th count in the space of a minute.

And another Labour minister, Aodhán Ó Riordáin this time, falling on his sword.

Around the centre all morning the mood had been one of exhaustion. For Ó Riordáin it was one of resignation. He knew his goose was cooked and his glum visage reflected as much.

After nearly four days of non-stop counting, everyone seemed wrung out and strung out. Shane Ross was here, and had more pep in his step than pretty much the rest of the huge room combined. But then he was elected on the second count in Dublin Rathdown three days ago.

There was something approaching solidarity now between those who remained. They’d all been through the mill for four hard days. Sinn Féin’s Denise Mitchell called to independent Finian McGrath by name. He shared a word with Ó Riordáin then left to wander nervously about the hall.

“I’m so nervous. It’s cruel, really cruel,” McGrath told us.

Chatting to Mitchell earlier a Labour volunteer betrayed the reality of the situation – the transfers from John Lyons weren’t going to go their way.

Then at 12.50pm the results were read. And rumour became fact.

Ó Riordáin looked almost relieved that it was over when questioned by the media scrum afterwards.

“It wasn’t to be,” he said. “I credit a great campaign that we lasted as long as we did.”

“I’m not the first TD to lose his seat,” he said ruefully.

He sounded crestfallen. It’s a tough game is politics as all four candidates had told me in unison before the count.

Asked whether or not Alan Kelly, who was in attendance, would be a good bet for next leader of the Labour Party Ó Riordáin wouldn’t be drawn.

I’m not going to get into that. The people don’t want Labour in government. We’ll sit down as a parliamentary party next week and go from there.

Current leader Joan Burton was conspicuous by her absence.

As things stand Labour are now fully dependent on Willie Penrose in Longford-Westmeath to pick up the vital seventh seat that would give the party speaking rights in the next Dáil. How that one will go is anyone’s guess.

20160301_125405 A relieved Tommy Broughan celebrates after his election Cianan Brennan / Cianan Brennan / /

Elsewhere there was nothing but jubilation.

Independent Tommy Broughan declared himself “delighted” at his election.

“It’s been a long hard four days for us all,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s Mitchell had been in quietly confident form all morning.

With Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald by her side she struck an aggressive tone:

“The people have told this Fine Gael government where to go, and they can take their water charges with them,” she said.

Her assembled supporters began belting out Oró Sé Do Bheatha Bháile. It was so loud poor Aodhán Ó Riordáin nearby could scarcely be heard as he spoke to the assembled reporters.

The whole scene was bedlam.

The other elected independent Finian McGrath looked like a load had been taken from his shoulders – earlier in the morning he had told that he’d had far more coffee than was good for him over the last three days.

20160301_125131 A jubilant Finian McGrath Cianan Brennan / Cianan Brennan / /

Gerry Adams reached out a hand. “Comhghairdeas Finian,” he boomed.

“I’m just delighted, absolutely delighted,” McGrath beamed.

The hard work starts now for me in representing the people of Dublin Bay North who have seen fit to elect me.

And then it was over. The count centre emptied more quickly than you would have thought possible and the media were left to pick over the scraps.

Next up is the final adjudication on Dublin South Central where AAA-PBP’s Bríd Smith is locked in a legal quagmire with Fianna Fáil’s Catherine Ardagh. How that one will go is hard to say, but, ominously, Ardagh has a barrister in attendance with her.

For Dublin Bay North though things had finally, finally come to an end.

To the victors the spoils. But who’s to say we won’t be back here for another four days before 2016 is out.

Read: ‘Group of Death’: Minister for Drugs Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has lost his Dáil seat

Read: The next Taoiseach: The people want Micheál over Enda – but a lot want neither

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