- The final results are now in: 76 Fine Gael, 37 Labour, 20 Fianna Fáil, 14 Sinn Féin, 5 United Left Alliance and 14 Independents. It is a particularly good year for Independents, who since 1933 have collectively only before hit double figures 1948 and 2002. They are a disparate group, so here is a brief summary of their backgrounds.
- Stephen Donnelly for Wicklow
Studied Engineering in UCD and MIT and Public Administration and International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Worked for McKinsey, an international management consultancy firm.
- Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan for Roscommon–South Leitrim
Ming has been standing for election since 1997, when he stood in Galway West, against his then landlord Frank Fahey. He contested the 1999 European election and the 2002 general election unsuccessfully, but was eventually elected to Roscommon County Council in 2004. He became Mayor of the Council in 2010. He first became noted for his campaign to legalize cannabis, and from an interview this week, his focus will be on cutting the cost of government while making local government more meaningful.
- Tom Fleming in Kerry South
Fleming was a lifelong Fianna Fáil member, a councillor since 1991. He ran as John O’Donoghue’s running mate in 2002 and 2007 and left in January of this year when Fianna Fáil decided to run only one candidate.
- Noel Grealish in Galway West
Grealish was elected as a Progressive Democrat councillor in 1999. He became a TD in 2002 after Bobby Molloy did not contest the election. He acted as leader in 2009 when Ciarán Cannon left to join Fine Gael after the party had voted to dissolve. After the dissolution of the Progressive Democrats, he continued to formally support the government until September 2010. He will be voting for Enda Kenny on 9 March.
- John Halligan in Waterford
Halligan was elected to Waterford City Council as member of the Workers’ Party in 1999. He left the party in 2008 to vote in favour of service charges.
- Michael Healy-Rae in Kerry South
Son of Jackie Healy-Rae, who was an Independent TD and supporter of Fianna Fáil since 1997, Michael has been a councillor since 1999.
- Michael Lowry in Tipperary North
Elected first for Fine Gael TD in 1987, he was Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications from 1994 to 1996. He was dismissed as a Minister when it was revealed that Ben Dunne had paid for an extension to his house. He has contested every election since as an Independent, topping the poll on each of four occasions. He supported the Fianna Fáil/Green government from 2007 through to the vote on the Finance Bill earlier this year.
- Finian McGrath in Dublin North-Central
Elected as an Independent councillor 1999, he was first elected to the Dáil in 2002. He supported the Fianna Fáil/Green/PD government from 2007 to 2009.
- Mattie McGrath in Tipperary South
McGrath was a Fianna Fáil councillor from 1999 to 2007, when he was elected to the Dáil. He left the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party in 2010 in opposition to their support for the ban on the Meath stag hunt.
- Catherine Murphy in Kildare North
Murphy was a member of the Workers’ Party, but broke away to form Democratic Left in 1992, joining Labour in 1999. She has been an Independent since the 2004 local elections. She was a county councillor from 1991 until her election to the Dáil in 2005, in the bye-election caused by the appointment of Charlie McCreevy to the European Commission.
- Maureen O’Sullivan in Dublin Central
O’Sullivan is a schoolteacher and was Tony Gregory’s election agent. She was co-opted to Dublin City Council in 2008 and won the bye-election in 2009 caused by Gregory’s death.
- Thomas Pringle in Donegal South-West
Pringle was first elected to Donegal County Council in 1999 and was re-elected in 2004 and 2009. He was a member of Sinn Féin from January 2004 to November 2007. He is a patron of the left-wing Eurosceptic People’s Movement. He will be remembered in this election as the man who unseated Tánaiste Mary Coughlan.
- Shane Ross in Dublin South
At the time of his election on Friday, with the second-highest vote in the country, he was the longest serving Senator, having represented Trinity graduates since 1981. He was a member of Fine Gael in 1990s, being elected to Wicklow County Council for Bray in 1991 and unsuccessfully contesting the 1992 general election for the party. He is well known as a Sunday Independent journalist and as the author recently of The Bankers and Wasters.
- Mick Wallace in Wexford
Property developer and soccer manager who has supported left-wing causes. He has urged Labour to stay out of government with Fine Gael.
Of these, and to generalize just to get an idea of which of them will work together, Stephen Donnelly, Ming Flanagan and Shane Ross are most focused on efficient government spending, Tom Fleming, Noel Grealish, Michael Healy-Rae, Mattie McGrath and Michael Lowry would be centre-right or conservative constituency champions with backgrounds in centre-right parties, while John Halligan, Finian McGrath, Catherine Murphy, Maureen O’Sullivan, Thomas Pringle and Mick Wallace are broadly left-wing.
We recently commended Independent TD Finian McGrath‘s willingness to reconsider his position on the Lisbon Treaty, in light of the guarantees which the government secured after last year’s defeat. He voted No last year, and we can now confirm that he will be voting Yes.
While he still has some concerns with the nature of the European Union, “but this will not stop me making a decision that is in the interest of the Irish people”.
He believes that we are being offered a step in the right direction, and that the governments of the EU countries have addressed the main concerns of the Irish people since last year’s referendum.
I wanted firm and legal guarantees. I also wanted a commitment to a protocol. We now appear to have achieved these objectives. There is now a package of legally-binding guarantees on the table.
[wpaudio url=”http://blog.irelandforeurope.ie/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/McGrath.mp3″ text=”Morning Ireland, 9 Spetember” dl=0]
Independent TD Finian McGrath voted No last year, while an official supporter of the government. Yesterday on Morning Ireland, he explained why he is a Don’t Know now. He cited the lack of a permanent Commissioner and concerns about our involvement in defence arrangements as his biggest reasons for voting No, and he felt that he had a duty as a public representative to reconsider his stance of last year now that we have guarantees that there will always be an Irish Commissioner, and recognizing our neutrality.
This is welcome to hear, and especially as Finian McGrath has since withdrawn his support for the government. He has been a critic of government policy over the past year and is respected for his diligent efforts with local communities. He has now shown here that whatever way he does vote, it is quite possible to separate one’s views on the government from the important decision on the Lisbon Treaty.