Channel News Asia
June 13, 2004
Summary: Recent Irish elections using PR-STV saw the Irish majority
party, Fianna Fail lose power to Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA.
Channel News Asia
Setback for Irish Ruling Party as Sinn Fein Vote Surges
June 13, 2004
DUBLIN : Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fail party has
suffered a setback in local elections while Sinn Fein, the political wing of the
IRA, is set to make big gains, according to unofficial party tallies and exit
Fianna Fail is facing big losses while Sinn Fein looks set to establish itself
as a major presence in council chambers around the country following Friday's
vote, held in tandem with elections for the European Parliament.
"It's obviously a mid-term rap on the knuckles," Communications
Minister Dermot Ahern told RTE state radio.
"I think it is the electorate saying: 'You can do better', and I can
guarantee you that we will do better."
Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty said that his party looked set to win local
council seats around the country.
"We will be coming at all of the parties because they have left a huge
section of the people behind. They have neglected them," he said.
The country voted for 1,627 representatives on 114 local councils.
Unofficial tally figures from party observers said Fianna Fail could lose about
eight of its 20 seats on the 52-member Dublin City Council and is facing seat
An exit poll released by RTE indicated that the vote for Ahern's party in the
local elections had dropped by six points since the last such ballot in 1999.
Nevertheless it was still in the lead with 33 percent.
The vote for the junior party in the national coalition government, the
Progressive Democrats, has dropped by half to one percent. Support for the other
main party, Fine Gael, fell slightly to 26 percent.
Sinn Fein looked to be the major gainer, seeing its tally jump by over six
points to 10 percent.
The party tallies indicated that Sinn Fein should have councillors elected in
city, town and county councils where it has had no representation for 80 years.
Sinn Fein is the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, Northern Ireland's
main nationalist paramilitary force, but also competes in elections in the
Republic of Ireland, where it holds five seats in the national parliament.
Counting of ballot papers for Ireland's 13 seats in the European election will
take place on Sunday when the remaining European Union member states finish
However the RTE exit poll indicated that Sinn Fein may for the first time also
get a seat in the European Parliament in the Republic.
But it will depend on whether the party gets transfers from other candidates
under the country's single transferable vote proportional representation ballot
In a separate referendum held alongside the European and local elections, there
was a resounding four to one vote to approve a constitutional change removing
the automatic right to citizenship for babies born in Ireland to foreign
This provision was made as part of the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday peace
However the government said it had brought about an unforeseen growth in
"passport tourists" -- people in search of a nationality for their
child that gives them rights across the whole EU.