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Re-elected Enda Kenny: "Democracy is always exciting - but merciless"

Kenny admits FG-Lab coalition is out but won’t be pressed on linking with Fianna Fáil.

Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has kept his seat in Mayo, topping the poll in the first count.

The Fine Gael leader was speaking to reporters in the Castlebar count centre as the result was announced. He was reacting to the so-far disastrous result for Fine Gael candidates across the country,  telling our reporter Orla Ryan that he felt,

“Disappointed. And sorrow for many of those people. Democracy is always exciting but it is merciless when it kicks in. That said, at the same time, we’ve had substantial results in a number of constituencies.”

He added:

It more or less puts Fine Gael back to where we were in 2007.

Kenny took 13,318 first preferences to exceed a quota of 12,730 in the Mayo constituency. His running mate Michael Ring is so far coming second with 11,275. Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary and Lisa Chambers are in third and fourth place respectively with 9,402 and 8,231. The third FG candidate in the constituency, Michelle Mulherin, is running at 7,841, in fifth place.

Speaking to RTÉ, he said that he planned to stay on as leader of Fine Gael and that he had a duty as the current “head of government” and as “leader of a major bloc in the Oireachtas” in the forthcoming 32nd Dáil to focus on putting a government together.

He conceded that his “preference of a Fine Gael and Labour (government) could not now be returned”. He would not be pressed on the possibility of a FG-FF coalition, insisting that he would have to “look at all the counts, all the results” before knowing how to proceed.

Irish general election File photo of ironically-located posters for FF and FG in Cork during the campaign. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Kenny admitted:

The option of a majority government is gone. The option of a Fine Gael-Labour government is gone. I need to know the final resulst before I decide what the best thing is to do.

Enda Kenny has now won all 13 Dáil elections since the by-election of 1975, when he took over after the death of his father Henry. He entered the Dáil at the age of 24, and has now spent almost 41 years as a TD in Mayo. He will be the most electorally successful and longest-serving member of the next Dáil.

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Meanwhile, his Tánaiste, Labour’s Joan Burton, had to fight for her seat in Dublin West. She managed to take the fourth seat in the fifth count. Health Minister Leo Varadkar (FG) took the first seat, followed by Ruth Coppinger of AAA/PBP and Jack Chambers of FF.

TheJournal.ie’s Orla Ryan heard Kenny say that voters who had been “ashamed” to vote for Fianna Fáil in 2011 came out yesterday:

- with reporting from Orla Ryan in Castlebar

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