Last Friday the people of Ireland voted for a marked changed in Irish Politics. Some have described it as the "Pen Revolution", a day when Irish citizens caste their votes to annihilate Fianna Fail and bring forward new candidates to deal with our economic situation. Fourteen of these newly elected Tds are members of Sinn Féin. Its an incredible victory for a party that only had four Tds elected in the last general election four years ago. It is testament that the Irish people desire real change. The Independents that were elected enmasse last weekend will come and go, but the TDs of SF will remain and be joined by others.
So who are these TDs?
Sinn Féin Dail leader and Health spokesperson, Caoimhgin O' Caoláin, topped the poll in Cavan/Monaghan, taking over eleven thousand first preference votes. His running mate, twenty two year old Kathryn Reilly, narrowly missed out on joining him. In Louth, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams topped the poll, winning election to Leinster House on his first attempt. He took in over fifteen thousand first preferences.
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty also topped the poll in Donegal South West, where he had only won a by-election three months earlier. Pearse will be joined in the new Dail by fellow Donegal man, Pádraig MacLouchlainn, who topped the poll in Donegal North East.
Dublin saw a massive break through for the party. Sitting TD, Aengus O' Snodaigh was re-elected in Dublin South Central. He will be joined by three new Dublin SF TDs. Mary Lou McDonald was elected in Dublin Central, Dessie Ellis topped the poll in Dublin North West, while Sean Crowe won back the seat he lost in 2007 in Dublin South West.
Sinn Féin had another major break through in County Cork as two SF TDs were elected there. Jonathan O' Brien took a seat in Cork North Central, while Sandra McLellan was elected in Cork East. Martin Ferris also regained his seat in neighbouring Munster constituency, Kerry North Limerick West.
Peadar Tóibin took the second seat in Meath West while Michael Colreavy was elected in Sligo-North Leitrim. After a long count, brian Stanley became the fourteenth Sinn Féin TD elected when he was confirmed in Offaly/Laois.
It was an incredibly successful election, but there was also disappointment. John Brady missed out by the narrows of margins in County Wicklow after one of the longest counts in the country. Larry O' Toole came excruciatingly close to taking a seat in Dublin North East, as did Chris O' Leary. Other candidates performed wonderfully, but it just wasn't to be there time. Last Sunday, RTE predicted future seats for Sinn Féin in Wexford, Waterford, Carlow-Kilkenny and Wicklow.
The future looks bright for Sinn Féin.