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Dublin: 6°C Thursday 25 February 2021

Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Regina Doherty lose seats in first major Fine Gael casualties

Solidarity-People Before Profit’s Ruth Coppinger has lost her seat.

Image: RollingNews.ie

GOVERNMENT MINISTERS MARY Mitchell O’Connor and Regina Doherty have lost their seats. 

Mitchell O’Connor, the Minister for Higher Education, was eliminated on the eighth count in Dún Laoghaire. Her running mate, the relative unknown Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, did win a seat in the four-seat constituency. 

There had been significant concern that Fine Gael would lose a seat in the affluent constituency, however early tallies had suggested that Mitchell O’Connor might be safe.

Mitchell was first elected in 2011 and has been Minister for Higher Education since 2017. Under her watch, colleges have been critical of the lack of state funding for higher education, although Mitchell O’Connor focused heavily on gender equality and consent on campuses. 

Before this, she was Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. 

Doherty, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, has also been defeated in Meath East. 

She was first elected to the Dáil in 2011. 

Her running mate, the Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee, will now take the seat for Fine Gael. 

The loss of Doherty and Mitchell O’Connor brings the loss of government ministers so far to three. 

Doherty attracted attention during the election campaign for her comment that “no one reads manifestos”. 

More significantly, she also faced considerable scrutiny over the Public Services Card, which she famously described as “not compulsory but mandatory”. 

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In Dublin West, Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger was defeated on the sixth count. 

There had been concerns ahead of the election that the Socialist Party TD could lose her seat. 

First elected to the Dáil in a by-election in 2014, Coppinger had been a fierce critic of the government and a staunch advocate for women’s rights. 

Ruth Coppinger told Newstalk this evening that she was “extremely disappointed” to lose her seat, as she had been a socialist voice in the Dáil, raising issues like workers’ and women’s rights.

She said it was an “extremely difficult” and “quite diverse” constituency, but said Solidarity-PBP would discuss possible government formation with all the parties.

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