Ireland and Ulster: Sinn Féin wins twice


On June 6th, Standard & Poor’s has returned the “A-” to Ireland, too late for Labour, halved to 5.3 per cent by the European elections of May 25th 2014: this is a problem also for the government, whose largest party, Fine Gael led by Prime Minister Enda Kenny, has remained at the first place with twenty-two per cent  of the vote (22.3) and has got four seats in the EU Parliament, but was reached again by Fianna Fáil (22.3) which however, because of the situations in the constituencies, has only had one candidate elected.

The independent candidates have achieved twenty per cent of the votes cast (19.8) catching three seats in Strasbourg, but the big score (19.5 per cent of the vote), thanks to the discontent towards financial consolidation measures, went to Sinn Féin (a left nationalist party aligned with the GUE-NGL, the radical left in the EU parliament) which increased from zero to three its seats with regard to the representatives  of the Republic in Europe. The Green Party recovers (4.9) after the collapse of three years ago (caused by the alliance with Fianna Fáil). The extreme left  did well (Socialist Party and People Before Profit, that in the European elections  got 1.8 and 1.5 per cent) in the municipal elections.  1,701,942 out of 3,245,348 people voted in Ireland, whose MEPs have dropped from 12 to 11 because of the entry of Croatia into the EU.

In the Dublin area Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin) Nessa Childers (independent) and Brian Hayes (Fine Gael) were elected. Sinn Féin stands out in the city with 83,264 votes, in a steady erosion of consensus on the (currently in opposition) centrist-nationalist giant Fianna Fáil, although it recovered from the collapse of the general election of 2011.

The Fine Gael, with 54,676 votes, is the second force in the capital, showing weaker roots than in the west of the republic, while Fianna Fáil takes a breath, with 44,283 votes: the FF was strong in urban areas before handing, for five years, its primacy to Labour, to which however  three years in government with Fine Gael (liberal) have proved shattering. Today the Irish Labour Party has no elected representatives in Europe, Nessa Childers, a member of the leftist wing, was able to return to Strasbourg as independent (each voter in Ireland can express three preferences, if the first preferences are ineffective because the threshold necessary to get a seat has not been achieved – or because the threshold has already been reached – then second and third choices are counted). In Dublin, independent candidates and smallest parties have collected more suffrages (144,391) compared to all political forces:  in the constituency 358,943 out of 820,668 voters came out to vote, the turnout (43.74 per cent) was lower than in the rest of Ireland (55 ).

The Socialist Party, a group of extreme left, has scored a success- in the suppletive for the Irish parliament held in Dublin West – with the candidate Ruth Coppinger, replacing Patrick Nulty (Labour), who resigned for having posted inappropriate messages on facebook. In the Midlands-North-West district, Fine Gael has confirmed Mairead McGuinness, while Fianna Fáil has lost the seat of Pat “The Cope” Gallagher, paying the choice to also run Thomas Byrne. Sinn Féin, strong in the republic of Ireland and now the largest party in the north (Ulster) is growing in the west of the island, where SF elects Matt Carthy.  Luke “Ming” Flanagan and Marian Harkin (reconfirmed)  were also elected, as independents, in the west.

In the “South” distric Fianna Fáil has reconfirmed Brian Crowley, while Fine Gael has got seats for Seán Kelly and Deirdre Clune: cuts in social expenditure are mainly damaging Labour, while Fine Gael, the largest party in the government, is enduring. Sinn Féin has led to Strasbourg Liadh Nì Riada, while Fianna Fáil has maintained its leadership in the southern constituency as when this party ruled unchallenged (before 2009).

In Ulster, whose three MEPs are United Kingdom ‘s representatives, Martina Anderson (Sinn Féin) was elected with a lot of votes (159 813), grabbing 25.5 per cent, while Jan Pasley’s Democratic Unionist Party – in recent years a majority in Northern Ireland – is now resized to 20.9 per cent, confirming Diane Dodds. The Ulster Unionist Party goes back on track (13.3), re-electing Jim Nicholson, UUP was a majority until the nineties, that is, before DUP loyalists anti-agreement would take the lead among protestants.

In Ulster the SDLP (Socialist Democratic and Labour Party) led by Alex Attwood (13 per cent) is struggling to resurface and failed to secure a seat to the Irish moderate republicans. In the Protestant areas – where it is difficult to distinguish the DUP forced to manage the government’s agreements, from UUP, that mimics hardliners – another split against the DUP carried out by most intransigent loyalists (reorganized in the Traditional Ulster Voice) fed difficulties (TUV led by Jim Allister  has got 12.1 per cent). Alliance Party (moderate Protestants and Catholics, 7.1 ) achieved good results running Anna Lo, originally from Hong Kong.