Derek Nolan, who has conceded defeat before the first count in Galway West, says he doesn’t want the public’s pity.
The Labour Party representative, who topped the poll in 2011, has seen his first preference vote plummet by about 40%, according to tallies.
Deputy Nolan said he would be looking for a new job on Monday.
“I have to pay the rent. There are a whole load of practical things I have to look at. I’m now searching for a new job. I’m a qualified solicitor and have a Masters in human rights,” he said.
Deputy Nolan said he took the brunt of the criticism levelled at the Government.
“I was in a crowded space. I was being attacked. I was the target of so many, for so long, it became very difficult to cut through the lies and the negativity,” he said.
The city-based candidate said that at the beginning of the campaign, he sensed the party would hold onto the Labour seat first won by Michael D Higgins. But the tide went out in the last 10 days of the campaign.
Labour lost about 2,000 votes in Galway West in the final week of the campaign, he sensed.
He said: “I think we were affected by the national swing against the party. I think the two parties, Labour and Fine Gael, ran on a ‘let’s re-elect the Government’ platform. The public listened to that for a week of the campaign. When the campaign really got going they said ‘actually no, we don’t want to re-elect the Government’. That’s what happened but they didn’t actually decide what they did want to do.
“They didn’t decide they wanted overwhelmingly Fianna Fáil or they wanted overwhelmingly Sinn Féin. The two Government parties lost about 20% but Fianna Fáil went up 5% and Sinn Féin went up 5%. So there wasn’t a huge swing to one opposition party.”
Deputy Nolan said there is a future for Labour in Galway West.
“I don’t expect anybody in any way to feel sorry for me. Hundreds of thousands of people have found themselves in the exact same position as I am today. I’m not unique and I don’t want anybody’s pity. I was privileged to represent Galway West and I’d like to thank the people who showed such courtesy to me,” he added.
TALLIES: Half of boxes open in City West
With half of the boxes in Galway City West tallied, the state of play in the six-seater is:
Donal Lyons (Ind) 23%
Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) 14.75%
Niall McNelis (Lab) 11.89%
John Connolly (FF) 9.86%
Pearce Flannery (FG) 9.48%
Peter Keane (FF) 7.3%
John Crowley (Soc Dems) 6.3%
Clodagh Higgins (FG) 5.9%
Salthill and Taylor’s Hill boxes being tallied now
Left and right find middle ground
There is a tired old cliché about people singing from ‘the same hymn sheet’ – but despite their diverse political backgrounds, it could certainly be applied in the case of Galway city’s two new TDs.
Because Fine Gael’s Deputy Hildegarde Naughten and independent TD Catherine Connolly hold common ground when it comes to a lot of issues relating to Galway city.
For example, in the aftermath of the general election they both agreed that University Hospital Galway should be moved to a greenfield site at Merlin Park. They also articulated this view on the first day of the new Dail last week.
And, separately, they were both in favour of the provision of dedicated bus lanes throughout Galway city with the acceptance that there will be no outer bypass for at least another decade. Deputy Connolly believes that the current proposal is simply “a cul-de-sac” and should never have been progressed.
Left-leaning Independent TD Catherine Connolly and right-leaning Fine Gael TD, Hildegarde Naughton, both believe UHG is at saturation point and are committed to the development of a new public hospital at the larger, more accessible site east of the city.
This, along with the promotion of public transport initiatives to help end traffic chaos in the city, is one of the common policy objectives the two new women TDs share.
They are only the second and third women TDs ever in Galway West, following in the footsteps of former Fianna Fáil minister, Máire Geoghegan Quinn.
Fianna Fail attempts to woo Grealish again
Pressure is mounting on Galway West TD Noel Grealish to join Fianna Fail as the party attempts to be part of the next government.
The Fianna Fail organisation in the constituency are now convinced that Grealish may provide the party with the answer to winning a second seat in Galway West. And the organisation are disappointed that veteran TD Eamon O Cuiv has not delivered a second seat in the last two general elections. If Fianna Fail assume power, it is very unlikely that the Cornamona man will have a place at the front bench.
The party organisation in Galway West are now anxious that Grealish becomes part of their fabric and particularly as he is a proven vote-winner.
Grealish is part of an unofficial grouping in the Dail who are currently engaged with the two major parties with a view to forming a minority government.
The fact that the Carnmore man has been a TD since 2002, it is likely that he could be part of the front bench in the next government if he agrees to become part of the support that Fianna Fail require.
It was revealed last week that he had been approached by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to join up but he was not to be drawn on the issue.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.