Ireland 'is back in business' as voters punish Fianna Fail

An election outcome of seismic proportions has put the Republic of Ireland on course for a new coalition government made up of the two parties who were principal winners in the contest.

The landmark election opened the way for a whole new era – though a daunting and difficult one – by decimating the once-proud Fianna Fail party which has dominated Irish politics in living memory. Voters punished the party for presiding over the collapse of the Irish economy which led to a humiliating €85bn bail-out from the IMF and European institutions.

This loan means the new administration will start out not with a clean sheet but with a huge loan to repay and with a detailed programme of restrictions over government policy for years ahead.

One of the first acts of Enda Kenny, the Fine Gael leader who is set to become prime minister, will be to seek easier terms than those imposed on the outgoing government. "We are not going to cry the poor mouth," he said yesterday, "but I look for co-operation, consensus and support across Europe."

He described the terms of the bail-out as "a bad deal for Ireland and a bad deal for Europe", adding: "We want to restore our pride at home and abroad. Our country is back in business."

Fine Gael did not achieve an overall majorityand it is expected to open negotiations with the Irish Labour party, its traditional coalition partners, on forming a new government. The Irish political system has much experience with coalitions, and is quite at ease with the concept: it does not regard them as a source of instability.

Mr Kenny declared: "I intend to send out a clear message around the world that this country has given my party a massive endorsement to provide stable and strong government with a clear agenda. That's absolutely critical."

The Labour leader, Eamon Gilmore, made it obvious yesterday that his party hoped to receive approaches from Fine Gael. Together the two parties are expected to have 100 or more of the Irish parliament's 166 seats after their best-ever performances.

Sinn Fein also did well, more than doubling its Dail representation with its president, Gerry Adams, and other candidates polling particularly well. The number of independents and members of small parties was, at 14, the highest for more than half a century.

These striking advances were made at the expense of Fianna Fail, which had a historically poor result, dropping from more than 70 seats to around 20 as voters blamed it for the economic morass. Since the 1920s it has won at least one seat in every constituency. Today, 25 constituencies of the 43 are Fianna Fail-free zones, causing debate on when, if ever, the party can hope to stage a recovery.

It suffered a series of "Portillo moments" as former ministers lost their seats. The casualties included the deputy prime minister Mary Coughlan and tourism minister Mary Hanafin who lost their seats in an election in which women candidates did not fare well.

Fianna Fail was almost wiped out in Dublin, where the other big parties prospered. Brian Lenihan, the former finance minister who retained his seat against the trend, admitted: "The government has taken a hammering at the polls. I will do everything I can to rebuild the party and to be responsible opposition in the Dail."

The Green party, which was in coalition with Fianna Fail, lost all its seats. Most of the independents elected stood on anti-government tickets, and some of them will provide a left-wing voice absent from the last parliament.

While it is technically possible for Fine Gael to form an administration with the support of independents, there is a strong national mood for an emphasis on stability after months of near-chaos.

This means that Fine Gael and Labour are expected to open talks this week on agreeing a formal coalition.

News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

£10000 - £20000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week