Sinn Fein’s increase was “an average of a mere 37 votes a constituency”

I’ve just been talking to Ian Parsley, who sounded a somewhat sceptical note on the effective crippling of Sean Gallagher on Frontline last Monday. It remains a great moment of television without a doubt, but Ian wonders if it was more like the Sheffield rally was for Neil Kinnock, whose stock was already on the fall by the time of his jumping the shark…

In fact, there is a slightly counter intuitive narrative doing the rounds that the effect of the attack was reason the Sinn Fein performance was capped so low, and the Gallagher vote proved robust:

…a detailed analysis of the results, show that it was a pyrrhic victory for Sinn Féin.

The attack on Gallagher was predicated on the belief that it would cause his vote to collapse and further weaken Fianna Fáil to the benefit of Sinn Féin. This did not happen as Fianna Fáil supporters, offended by the attack on a candidate who had only one degree of separation from their party, flocked to Gallagher in their hundreds of thousands.

As political commentator Johnny Fallon astutely observed when he was in the Newstalk studio with me on Friday, those supporters will not forgive Sinn Féin. Their anger had the impact of stopping the Sinn Féin advance dead in its tracks.

And what are these figures:

Sinn Féin contested 38 of the 43 Dáil constituencies last February. Comparing that performance to the same 38 constituencies last Thursday, the party only managed a net increase of 1,390 votes, or an average of a mere 37 votes a constituency. Gallagher, on the other hand, achieved a 31 per cent increase on the Fianna Fáil vote in those same 38 constituencies.

Furthermore, when the performance in the 14 constituencies where Sinn Féin had TDs elected in February is analysed, it shows that it lost more than 26,000 votes, a drop in its share of the vote of 20.6 per cent, or one-fifth.

Of the 14 constituencies, only Cork North Central improved on February, while half of them had Sinn Féin support fall by more than 2,000 votes. This compares unfavourably with Gallagher’s performance, which had him improve on the Fianna Fáil February vote by 37.2 per cent in the same group of constituencies.

Hmmm… I’d go a just little easy on that analysis, especially the bit I’ve highlighted. Not least because some of the drops are coming in constituencies that can afford the loss, and least we forget, voters are a great more fickle in Presidential elections than others.

Fianna Fail’s problem is that they had a candidate that almost (but not quite) fitted with the profile of their former voters. I suspect the biggest chill factor was, as Ian suggest, that when they saw the colour of Gallagher’s FF political petticoats, they decided not to switch from a man they suddenly realised they did not really know, to one they were a great deal more certain they did.

Thus did rural Mayo switch from rural conservatism to socialist. Fianna Fail at least have the comfort of knowing their base still wants them, or someone like them. They still have the problem of finding someone who can do that without feeling they need to hide it.

As the US columnist Peggy Noonan has noted, “sincerity and competence is a strong combination. In politics, it is everything.” Those are precisely the two holes FF must plug if it is to make good on the promise of this election.

As for Sinn Fein, their TDs might try some of what Justin O’Brien’s using for a reassuringly powerful constituency performance in the midst of what must (whatever the party says publicly) a period of gloomy disappointment.

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  • Chris Donnelly

    2011 Dail election results (Feb 2011)
    On a 70% turnout, SF received 220,691 votes, 9.9% of those voting.

    2011 Presidential elections results (Oct 2011)
    On a 56% turnout, McGuinness received 243,030 votes, some 13.7% of those voting.

    You must’ve been reading Eoghan Harris’ latest diatribe as this effort at spin is a close second to his and clearly comes from the same stable.

    But you continue to avoid the most important electoral fact, highlighted above, which is that Sinn Fein’s vote percentage increased significantly from the party’s previous high water mark less than a year ago.

    Suggesting that such a result would lead to “a period of gloomy disappointment” is hard to sustain.

    Here’s a party which many on Slugger had written off in terms of their southern ambitions only 12 months ago.

    Now, if we’re to believe the range of anti-republican voices you’ve linked to in a series of posts, increasing the party representation and subsequently vote in successive elections is a cause for gloom?

    That’s a hard sell Mick.

  • 2011 Dail election results (Feb 2011)
    On a 70% turnout, SF received 220,691 votes, 9.9% of those voting.

    2011 Presidential elections results (Oct 2011)
    On a 56% turnout, McGuinness received 243,030 votes, some 13.7% of those voting.

    It was an increase in %, but to be a success it would have to be presumed that had there been a 70% turnout that SF would have increased its vote proportionally. That in many places SF lost voters from its General Election vote, and that in Dublin West it failed to make any significant headway despite FF’s earlier meltdown, and a clear drop in support for the coalition parties.

    No matter what way SF talks up the Presidential numbers, at best it made incremental progress on the margins, and at worst managed to demonstrate its political nature to the electorate and the other parties that will make life difficult enough for its project in the future. No doubt SF will keep on believing, as it must: otherwise what is it all for?

  • John Ó Néill

    By the same token, if this is to be a meaningful like-for-like comparison, Fine Gael would need to go straight to the electorate as they have no mandate anymore.

  • Cynic2


    Nice to see you back to try and shore up Marty’s reputation after the Great Presidential Election Fiasco.

    Just keep taking the tablets and wearing those SF issue green tinted glasses (available on the British NHS – they are desperate to help you keep up the pretence of ‘progress’) and it will all seem ok in SF la-la land

  • Chris Donnelly

    It was an increase in %, but to be a success it would have to be presumed that had there been a 70% turnout that SF would have increased its vote proportionally.

    There is no reason to believe otherwise, and this applies for all political parties and candidates, not just Sinn Fein.

    SF’s percentage of the overall vote at a constituency level increased significantly in what will likely become target Dail seat constituencies, whilst it also dropped percentage points in a number of others, albeit not significantly enough to lose existing Dail representation in a number of seats.

    Mick is right to point to the differences between a Dail and Presidential election.

    But even on this measure, for nearly 14% of the electorate to cast their first preference vote for a Sinn Fein leader when the party had never reached anywhere near that figure in statewide elections can only be deemed a success, and certainly not a cause for ‘gloomy disappointment.’

  • Lionel Hutz


    It’s a mixed bag, as I’ve said to you before. But this must be seen as a missed opportunity and for that reason alone, they should be disappointed. There was considerable cause to believe that Sinn Fein could have gotten18-20% in this election. SF have become better at managing expectations of late – I would confidently state that when MLMD predicted 14-18%, she was hopeful of hitting the height of tbat estimate. It didn’t work out for them.

    13.7% with 5 additional constituencies without a card carrying socialist candidate when you have fielded your strongest candidate possible. I mean its not as if he was competing with Kenny, Gilmore and Martin – is it?

    Where is the success?

    If there is a real gloominess it must also be because SF’s major competitors have do so well. The labour candidate finishes up with 1,000,000 votes and the proxy FF man beats them by over 2 to 1. They must now know that FF voters are not so fertile as they once seemed.

    Where do SF go from here? They can hope that the economy crashes again I suppose so their stopped clock economic policies can show the right time for the second time

  • Chris Donnelly

    An election fiasco involving an almost 4% increase in vote share.

    I think it’s clear who’s been taking the tablets, Cynic.

    But if you have actual evidence to support your argument- beyond facile remarks about the NHS and Teletubby language- I’d be delighted to hear it.

  • Lionel Hutz


    SF are the ones trying to chalk this up as a strategic building block for electoral success.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Dissenter – in fairness, SF were up against an established Socialist Party candidate in Dublin West, and the left wing vote has its limits.

    A more realistic assessment of McGuinness’ campaign by Liam Clarke (who I think we can agree is not a shinnerbot):

    One line stands out for me: ‘it left a solid base on which to build in every constituency.’

    Precisely. John Bowman commented in the wake of the last General Election that SF were there or thereabouts in dozens of constituencies and that if they retained their support and worked those areas they could expect an increased haul at a future election. Well, they’re even closer now and have lots and lots of lovely stats to ponder.

    Things are falling well for SF. The next elections are local – not so high stakes an election as disgruntled voters might baulk at voting for a party they wouldn’t dream of putting in the Áras. And where do good General Election candidates come from if not from the ranks of local government.

  • Chris Donnelly

    I don’t believe Mary Lou, or any other southern candidate, would’ve escaped the rump of candidates who trailed home with single figures support.

    Personally, I believe that Sinn Fein would’ve preferred to support an independent candidate- possibly with a northern GAA background- but that, in the event of such a candidature not materialising, they opted for McGuinness.

    Again, arguing that a party appearing on the ropes in Nov 2010 but securing the Dail representation and then further increased electoral support through McGuinness is a failure is simply not credible.

    Lionel’s right about Gallagher’s vote showing that Fianna Fail haven’t gone anywhere, but who really thought they had gone away?

    SF will rely on developing its policies and a more credible opposition stature within the Dail as the means to further make inroads in the south, and all the evidence regarding the party’s Dail performance since February gives further reasons for optimism.

  • Lionel Hutz


    I wouldn’t disagree with you on Mary Lou. I dont think SF have a “not tainted by the IRA” candidate of sufficent standing to do seriously well in a presidential election – and thats what they need.

    You agree with me on FF. I think that is critical for SF. SF need to become the major opposition party and that just doesn’t look likely any time soon.

  • 241934 john brennan

    When on the Pat Kenny TV show, McGuinness ambushed Gallagher about his past he concluded his questions with a smug bit of advice to Gallagher to be careful about his answer for it might take him “into murky waters”.

    Unfortunately for Gallagher he stumbled in his answer. Some who followed that debate wondered why Gallagher then failed to score into the open goal, by reminding McGuiness that the murky waters of Irish bogs still cover many of the IRA’s secretly buried victims.

  • Mick Fealty


    For the record, no I’ve not read Eoghan’s latest piece.

    And as you can see, I’ve caveated the use to hard numbers to draw up robust analysis.

    But what the story does indicate is that this less of a roll forward and more of a consolidation in the core constituencies. Pointing at 13.7 (on, we were continually told at the time was an independent run), obscures that.

    I may be guilty of having my own prejudices, but I do try to guard against pure spin. The more important thing revealed by these results is that the FF vote is still there.

    And that even with the voter flight Gallagher got a relatively soft landing. Not least in the areas around the border where the FF brand had previously seemed vulnerable, and SF might have reasonably expected to profit.

    Finally, Cynic. You’ve been barred before, it can happen again!

  • John Ó Néill

    Lionel, I think all of the parties would be treating the results with some caution. There is a low turnout, the campaign and vote focuses on one candidate and there is not the multi-seat result that comes with PR.

    At the same time, I doubt that SF will engage in any form of public analysis of it’s own performance. But as Chris is repeatedly point out – talking it down overall by pulling out meaningless numbers and ignoring the headline ones is pure spin.

    Today I think SF are a bit more concerned with the $1 billion dollar unsecured, unguaranteed (and not subject to the Troika deal) Anglo bond that is going to be paid tomorrow, contrary to the election promises of the coalition. The realpolitik simply isn’t in the entrails of the election campaign.

  • SethS

    It’s only natural that SF and their supporters will try and portray the result in a positive light and that their opponents will do the opposite.

    Whilst there is no doubt that in % terms SFs vote has gone up. A low turnout will generally benefit parties with higher voter loyalty. SF voters are generally regarded to be a bit more loyal than others and more likely to turn up and vote. The 4% increase has to be read with this this in mind.

    I would regard this as a bit of a meh election for SF, neither good nor bad. Given that predictions of 15-20% were being bandied about, 13% cannot really be considered a great success.

    At the same time, the relatively toxic nature of some of the questioning of MMG didn’t result in a drop in support either so the result wasn’t terrible.

    It remains to be seen if the normalisation of MMG can pay any longer term dividends in the South. He is unlikely to play any future role in ROI politics so the gains (if any) are likely to come from further detoxification of the SF brand. If this election has acheived some of that (and we won’t know until the next general election) then I guess it will be regarded as a success.

  • Nordie Northsider

    SethS wrote: ‘At the same time, the relatively toxic nature of some of the questioning of MMG didn’t result in a drop in support either so the result wasn’t terrible.’

    I think that’s a good point. If SF can stand the IRA Man incarnate and see their vote rise it does suggest that less controversial candidates for non-presidential offices, might do rather better.

  • vanhelsing


    Interesting blog. Malachi O’Doherty wrote a good article in the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, I’ll quote a small portion.

    “He [Martin McGuinness] has revived in the media the debate about the legitimacy and decency of the IRA campaign, setting back the growth of a working assumption that the past could be comfortably forgotten.

    And more: he has demonstrated that the border is rock solid. Even the most blinkered unionist bigot must now see that the south does not want to be tainted by the north; wants as little to do with us as possible.

    The next time Sinn Feiners talk about the prospects of a united Ireland in our lifetimes, the plainest evidence that can be thrown back at them is the derision that was piled on the head of Martin McGuinness when he presumed to imagine that a northern republican could speak for the whole country. ”

    I’ve been told that SF were transfer repellent but haven’t been able to find the evidence for this – anybody?

  • Into the west

    the sheer volume of media,print, blogs, & discussion
    around SF as compared to other parties North and South is just incredible.

    They must be the most heavily analysed party in Europe.
    so there’s a increase in percentage terms there !

    you could be forgiven for thinking SF is Ireland
    wait, just a sec, could that be part of the grand plan?

  • michael-mcivor


    Malachi o’doherty and a few others seem to think that only Sinn Fein voters want to see the last of the border- other partys voters want this also-

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    It now seems that the media, who themselves labelled FF as toxic and out of office for a generation, called it wrong.

    Rather than hold up their collective hands and declare that they got it all wrong and that FF is a lot more durable than they hoped/wished it is now the fault of SF for not confirming the views of the media.

    It is certainly a new angle for attacking SF.

  • Lionel Hutz


    all parties should treat itwith caution. The point I make is thatit is Sinn Fein who are failing to do so. Ever since it became apparent that McGuinness could not win, Sinn Fein hacks have been going out about how this is all about gaining votes, making inroads, becoming mainstream etc. Thats why it is right for analysts to really well analyse it.

    Labour are not claimng to have 40% of the vote, are they. So no-one will ridicule it.

  • Cynic2


    Your dogged flogging of a dead horse (or more probably donkey) is touching. Your breathless prose and obsessive attempts to talk up an average performance much less so.

    As for the ‘4% rise’ in vote share, that’s stretching it even for you. As many others have pointed out the gain averages out at 37 votes a constituency.

    May I also point out that SFs vote is really an activist vote that tends to turn out and vote no matter what and no matter how much blood is dripping off the hands of the candidate. Your alleged 4% rise in ‘share’ therefore came mostly from others not bothering to vote.

    As Mick says elsewhere, this was not the promised great breakthrough (and how often have we heard that promised). Instead you had a consolidation and a clear message to SF that:

    1 in the minds of the electorate in the Republic Ireland is divided into two states. (As a Republican aren’t you even a tad ashamed that all SFs campaign of violence did was to reinforce this?)

    2 Irish voters aren’t inspired by Northern drop ins – especially those with dodgy pasts they cant even admit to

    3 even at a time of crisis when you should be making hay electorally, Irish voters want a future and don’t want SF’s brand of economically illiterate politics

    From all the hyperbole in your posts you don’t seem to get this. Again perhaps another case of politics for slow learners?

  • John Ó Néill

    VH – McGuinness took 11% and 12% of the available transfers in the two counts in which he featured slightly below his fpv. The other results vary: Mitchell took a slightly higher proportion of transfers at 8% in the two counts, while Michael D actually took 5% less than his fpv in the second and 60% in the third, Gallagher took pretty much the same percentage of the vote in the second count but 10% less in the third. On that basis McGuiness didn’t do any better or worse than the rest, really.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Another point I want to pick up on is the continued assertion that this was about drawing the sting of negative campaigning to pave the way for a “non-tainted” member to have an easier ride.

    This is such a fallacy. Such a candidate would not have faced such bile this time round either. If Sinn Fein really wanted to normalize themselves they would put up their fresher candidates now and they would start to.appear more normal.Instead they have set such an agenda back several years. Instead of building on the success of bringing in the likes of Doherty, who has been rightly regarded as a positive for them, they have played Back to the Future politics. They’ve had several widely watched TV debates this year, dominated by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinnes answering questioms on the IRA. Thats what Sinn Fein have been characterized by over the last number of months. They could have gained far more than 3% from the Fianna Fail implosion had they done otherwise.

    This is just a vanity trip for Adams and McGuinness now and not in Sinn Feins interest

  • vanhelsing

    John thanks for that info, appreciate it.

  • John Ó Néill

    Lionel: @The point I make is that it is Sinn Fein who are failing to do so.


    I think there have been two blogs on the election results here that looked at this from what would be seen as an SF-friendly point of view: one from Chris and one from me. Admittedly mine is flagging up the first time that the combined FG and, if you treat a such, FF has been so low. At the same time, there are at least half a dozen blogs on here insisting that SFs performance should be interpreted as a disaster for SF.

    As people sometimes comment on here – if you switch to listen mode you often get a better insight (and better discussions) than everything has to be kept at the shouting pitch which is often the norm on here.

    If you look at the figures above – SF may be relatively happy at the transfers McGuinness got. You also need to look for the constituencies where SF have a genuine interest (e.g. 14% in Wexford) that will become targets in the next locals (2013) and Dail election (whenever).

  • lamhdearg

    Van, cant do links, but utv news archive “higgins elected” gives the figures. john, fpv, i like it, but in pure numbers transfered Martin came next from last*, did he not?.
    *when dana and marys votes where transfered he only did better than norris, and when norris went, martin was running last on over all transfers from the three excluded,(martin only did better than gay on norris’s transfers alone).
    transfers alone, what that in Gaelic.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Let’s take your points, one by one, shall we?

    “As for the ’4% rise’ in vote share, that’s stretching it even for you. As many others have pointed out the gain averages out at 37 votes a constituency.”

    McGuinness took 13.7, Sinn Fein in February took 9.9. That looks like a 3.8 percent increase to me. As I’ve pointed out in the initial post above, the 37 vote average is spurious, and any serious student of electoral politics would dismiss it on the basis that it compares elections with distinctly differing turnouts.

    “May I also point out that SFs vote is really an activist vote that tends to turn out and vote no matter what and no matter how much blood is dripping off the hands of the candidate. Your alleged 4% rise in ‘share’ therefore came mostly from others not bothering to vote.”

    Utter tripe, Cynic. That ‘activist’ card gets wheeled out in the north every now and then, but in reality political activists are but a drop in the electoral ocean.

    Furthermore, it is not an argument which can be used with any credibility in terms of southern politics, not least because Sinn Fein’s activist base- and, before February, core electoral base- was a fraction of that of the other main political parties.

    “Irish voters aren’t inspired by Northern drop ins”

    Ahh, my favourite. They’ve only had one as President for the past fourteen years!

    Keep it up Cynic, I’m enjoying this!

  • Rory Carr

    Do I have this right, Mick :

    Fíanna Fáil voters who supported Gallagher were so annoyed by McGuinness’s outing of their preferred candidate as a bit of a chancer that they decided to vote for him regardless instead of voting for McGuinness, which they never intended to do in the first place ?

  • vanhelsing

    @lamhdearg – “transfers alone, what that in Gaelic?” – priceless:)

  • Jimmy Sands


    Mary may be a nordie but she was hardly a drop in. Coco’s last address south of the border was Portlaoise.

  • lamhdearg

    I must admit mick, as rory indicates above, that part had me thinking of the bit it jfk , (churchhill i believe but more fun through the character ferrie) “its a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Thanks for that info regarding transfer rates.

    Yet another reason why Sinn Fein should regard this election in a positive light- the transfer repellent label is clearly less relevant than ever before.

  • lamhdearg

    a man hears what he wants to hear and.

  • Mick Fealty


    That’s a good spot. You have it almost right. Something got squeezed for Sinn Fein, and it may only have been the rush to pick/block a winner dynamic I’ve been wittering on about since the start of the campaign.

    I think Johnny’s original point on Newstalk may have been that it shored up Gallagher rather than took votes from SF. The SF angle though is relevant to the *media* talk about about SF being the second most popular party in the state.

    FF are still on 15%. That Gallagher vote is not anything FF can take for granted. And that’s a qualification that can be put with much less certainty of Martin’s vote for SF.

    The disparity is compelling, which is what most of the post above was about, if you go back and read below the title.

    If Gallagher stood as a former FF man, would he have done better to retain the lead he had? Hard to see so many from other parties giving him that meteroic rise but he might have been building from a more solid base.

    The intriguing thing is that clearly neither he nor FF knew that that scale of vote would accrue to anyone even loosely associated with the party brand.

    In this context, you have to see the SF move up in vote relative to the way the whole electorate seems to have shifted. If it’s progress it is a weak progress.

  • Quagmire

    Why this obsession with SF’s growth? The GFA is an agreement between two soveirgn governments, namely the British govt and the Irish govt. The likelyhood of SF forming one of these govts and exercising real power is far greater than any other party in NI. For instance, if my sums are correct, the current composition of the HOC is 650 MPs of which 9 are NI unionist MPs. In precentage terms thats a mere 1.4% of the total number of MPs in the HOC. On the other hand Dail Eireann has a total number of 166 TDs of which 14 are members of SF. In percentage terms thats almost 8.5% of the total composition of the Dail. Factor in the fact that the Dail is elected via PR, hence increasing the likelyhood of forming a coalition govt, and the HOC is elected using FPTP which very very very rarely throws up a coalition govt and Robert is your mother’s brother. It would seem that certain people with certain agendas are indulging in a spot of wishful thinking. Good luck with that!

  • lamhdearg

    feb to nov, how do you stay away.

  • Quagmire

    To put my previous post in context, that would be the equivelant of NI unionism having approx 54 MP’s in the HOC.

  • Ten things we now know following the presidential election.

    1 Future live debates will be targeted and bombarded with false information.
    2 No party leader will agree to a future live debate unless it is hermetically sealed.
    3 A prophet is without honour in his own country especially if he is a peacemaker with a history of peacepostponing.
    4 Personality politicians believe more in identity politics than issue politics.
    5 The Irish presidency is not a Dutch auction
    6 One political light heavyweight from the North can only KO one opponent at a time, and only then with the referee’s assistance.
    7 It is not safe to walk the streets with a television crew
    8 Repeating something over and over again just means people don’t believe you over and over again, its called negative reinforcement.
    9 The Irish people never at any time, whether in numerous polls or the election, thought of MMcG as a future president.
    10 Prince Charles would like to meet him.

  • SethS

    ““May I also point out that SFs vote is really an activist vote that tends to turn out and vote no matter what and no matter how much blood is dripping off the hands of the candidate. Your alleged 4% rise in ‘share’ therefore came mostly from others not bothering to vote.”

    Utter tripe, Cynic. That ‘activist’ card gets wheeled out in the north every now and then, but in reality political activists are but a drop in the electoral ocean. ”

    Are you seriously suggesting that SF does not have a core of solid support and that SF activists do not make a big effort to get that vote out. If this is the case then your 13% is looking pretty ephemeral.

    I woud argue that as a small(ish) party the majority of SFs support is coming from core supporters. Obviously if support grows a larger number will no longer fall into that category – and those are the votes that are more difficult to hold on to. Obviously its impossible to say whether that 4% increase is new “floating” voters or just a reflection of the higher turnout of SF core voters than other party core voters. I tend towards the latter, you towards the latter.

    I accept that you have to tow the party line and make this out to be a fantastic success but I would hope that SF are taking a more credible view of the result behind closed doors.

  • Soldier

    Chris’ efforts to spin this as good news for SF is valiant, but unfortunately when the facts are agin you, there isn’t much you can do.

    Today’s Irish Times piece flagged by Mick is a good piece of analysis but misses one point that is relevant for Chris.

    Even if, as a loyal SF believer, you buy into Chris’ 3.8% increase argument, look at Dublin West. On the same day, the same voters when offered a new, younger, presentable SF Dáil candidate, weren’t interested.

    In Dublin West last Thursday 11.9% of the electorate voted Martin McGuinness, while 8.89% chose Sinn Féin in a Dáil election.

    That’s a gap of 3% between Marty and the Party.

    Apply that across the board and even the notional and flakey increase that Chris and the party loyalists are spinning just melts away.

    It has been an expensive and counterproductive flop for Sinn Féin.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I agree abit with the Sinn Féin analysis.

    A clear victory for Republicans

    The Queen (or rather Gay “Commonwealth” Mitchell) didn’t win.

    Also if Gallagher counts as the pseudo Fianna Fail candidate and McGuinness as the pseudo Sinn Féin candidate (accounting for the 4TDs outside SF) then Sinn Féin are only the second republican party in the poll

    Combine Gallagher and McGuinness and you don’t get a republican majority, of course then ‘an Lucht Oibre’ are generally considered republican too.

  • John Ó Néill


    In Dublin West last Thursday 11.9% of the electorate voted Martin McGuinness, while 8.89% chose Sinn Féin in a Dáil election.

    i.e. So the electorate understood they were voting in two different elections and voted tactically in each poll to maximise the use of their vote (for those who are mathematically challenged, in SF’s case, that actually meant a 45% rise on their vote in the last Dáil election)? Sounds like the electorate are a bit more sophisticated than many of the attempts to provide ‘informed’ analysis on here.

  • Lionel Hutz


    I agree that talking of 37 votes is unfairly harsh. But to suggest that Sinn Fein have had a 4% rise is also not an accurate reflection.

    you have to look at the average %age across the constituencies they have stood in in February. Mark McGregor had the increase somewhere between 2.and 2.5 %.

    And then you add in the fact that in the one Dail election on the same day, 25% of the McGuinness vote didnt transfer to the SF candidate.

    Thats quite gloomy
    Thats gloomy

  • Lionel Hutz


    both the Dublin West and Presidential elections offered similar scenarios for SF. Neither candidate had a hope in hell of winning and it was for one seat. Whats the difference

  • John Ó Néill

    Lionel – two different sets of candidates, so presumably voters differentiated between the contests, the runners and the shape of the two races and opted to vote based on how best to use it in each contest (e.g. vote Dana in one, Barry Cesear Hunt in the other, etc).

  • Scáth Shéamais


    Second count (redistribution of Mary Davis and Dana’s votes)
    Higgins: + 29,379
    Gallagher: + 24,437
    Mitchell: + 14,036
    McGuinness: + 9,581
    Norris: + 7,057

    Third count (redistribution of Norrris’ votes)
    Higgins: + 62,648
    Gallagher: + 18,972
    McGuinness: + 12,585
    Mitchell: + 8,952

  • Lionel Hutz

    fair enough John, but isnt tbat problem going to face them in the next GE. When its just Joe average of SF versus the average FF/FG/Labour – by and large SF will lose out. And thats before we consider a prominant indepedent

  • redhugh78

    450,000 less votes cast at the presidential election than the general election and MMcG polls 22,000 more votes than the SF total from the general election.
    Even if you remove those votes from the constituencies that SF did not contest in the general election from the total of votes received by MMcG then it is quite an impressive return given the massive drop in votes cast from the general election.
    The Dublin West By election is also quite impressive given that Donnelly increased his actual votes and % share when FG,Lab, and Soc % all dropped.


  • redhugh78

    should read ‘..when FG, Lab, and Soc ‘votes’ all dropped’

  • Henry94

    I’m not convinced we are looking at the right things by just considering the numbers. Sinn Fein will continue to make progress on an incremental basis but what they need is a breakout election where they show dramatic gains. Organisation can put you in the position to benefit from such a development but it can’t make it happen. I know that there are many voters who say occasionally that they have a good mind to vote Sinn Fein but draw back in the end.

    They still hope that the established parties will somehow lead us out of the crisis and they are not quite ready to make a switch.


    Another point I want to pick up on is the continued assertion that this was about drawing the sting of negative campaigning to pave the way for a “non-tainted” member to have an easier ride.

    This is such a fallacy.Such a candidate would not have faced such bile this time round either.

    I disagree. Mary McAleese faced it at the last election and she wasn’t even running for Sinn Fein. Of course they will try it again if and when Sinn Fein run any candidate but its effectiveness will be blunted considerably .

  • Cynic2


    “They’ve only had one (Northern Drop In) as President for the past fourteen years!”

    You sound more and more desperate

    You might for example look at Mary McAleese’s career. You will find that before her election most of it was spent in the Republic focused on law reform and human rights and including a long period as a journo on RTE.

    She therefore made a real contribution to life in Ireland (rather than death) and had a high public profile in the Republic. She was ‘one of us’ in a way that Marty could never be. Against that profile speaking at a few rallies to commemorate the glorious dead wont cut the mustard with voters – as Marty found out

  • Jimmy Sands

    Mary McAleese faced it at the last election

    From one person. Hardly the same.

  • Cynic2

    “You’ve been barred before, it can happen again!”

    …but what for Mick? What for? Pricking pomposity?

  • Chris Donnelly

    I woud argue that as a small(ish) party the majority of SFs support is coming from core supporters.

    Given that McGuinness polled close to one quarter of a million votes, that’s a helluva lot of core supporters you’ve identified!

    McAleese was derided as a northerner by many of the same journalists now proclaiming McGuinness’ campaign to have been a failure.

    The key difference is not that she spent a few years as a journalist or law figure in the South, but that she was supported by Fianna Fail in the campaign.

    Her northern background didn’t enter into it.

    Ironically, northerners have featured quite prominently in the past three presidential election contests, so clearly there is no issue with their 6-county roots (though I can appreciate why you’ dearly wish that wasn’t the case.)

  • Erasmus

    Malachi O’Doherty (and much of the commentariat) don’t really understand southern politics. There is a large ‘X Factor’ element in presidential elections and party political strengths cannot be extrapolated; nobody could seriously claim, for example, that Labour are 7 times as strong on the ground as FG. In short it was a solid if not spectacular performance by SF. I’m not a SF supporter BTW.

  • Cynic2

    “though I can appreciate why you’ dearly wish that wasn’t the case”

    That’s just your biased assumption

  • Cynic2

    ” so clearly there is no issue with their 6-county roots”

    I never said there was an issue of roots. I said there was an issue of blow ins. Two different issues.

    So it Marty’s relatively poor performance wasn’t down to his Northernness, why did he do so badly?

  • Cynic2

    What’s the derivation of this ‘coco’ name?

  • Rory Carr

    “So it Marty’s relatively poor performance wasn’t down to his Northernness, why did he do so badly?”

    Assumes facts not in evidence. But at least serves to highlight one glaring feature of comments upon McGuinness’s performance in this election and that is the desperate need of those who oppose Sinn Féin at every turn to find failure in whatever venture it attempts.

    It would not matter had McGuinness triumphed, comfort would have been found in his failure not to triumph overwhelmingly, in the way he pulled the wool over the eyes of the electorate, in a reassurance of the electorate’s stupidity. Any and all would have been pulled from the hat, anything to hide from themselves what they know in their hearts and minds to be the stark reality, and that is that Sinn Féin are steadily and inexorably gaining ground, going from one achievement to the next with relentless determination, and this election was but further progress on that march.

  • lamhdearg

    Where are they marching to, and when they get close, may they not be turned around and sent back from whence they came.

  • Rory Carr

    Of course, Lamhdearg, anything is possible. Let that thought then be your sucking-teat of comfort.

  • Cynic2


    ” Assumes facts not in evidence.”

    Doh! read the headline on the post. And that came from Mick, not me.

    Marty’s performance was way below SF’s expectations. That’s why they and their supporters are so keen to talk it up.

    Its ‘a United Ireland by 2016’ all over again.

  • Mick Fealty


    You might also allow me to observe that there’s been an awful lot of sour grapes coming in the opposite direction too. And often to no useful purpose.

    It wasn’t great, since the party missed its target range. We must be permitted to say so without getting slated for it, or mention of the ubiquitous ‘agenda’ nonsense.

    Propaganda serves no useful purpose here, whatever gets said else where. Criticism of SF is often either too carapaced and hardened or too obsequious to be of any practical use. There has to be a useful and civilised middle.

    If I thought it was a clear victory for SF, I would say so, loudly and clearly. The problem is that where the party is at the moment is on a plateau. From which there is no prospect of either sudden descent, or ascent.

    It’s not a bad place to be, which possibly why you and chris and others feel the criticism here is too harsh (carapaced even). But the truth is the territory is only slowly revealing itself, and the expected path through (over the bodies of Fianna Fail) is not as open as we (including myself) had previously thought. Those ‘soldiers’ were not dead, nor sleeping, just lying in slip trenches, fixing bayonets, waiting for the largely blue shirt advance to pass.

    What all this firefighting misses is the need to re-group and find an instrumental purpose for itself in the south, not just close the operation in NI for a few weeks to its send shock troops down on manoeuvres.

  • Cynic2

    Well said Mick.

    Arguably that is Sf’s overall problem, north and south – lack of coherent viable policies for the future that command respect from the electorate.

    In some senses they are still in transition from a protest movement to a viable party in Government.

  • Cynic2

    Oh yes…and for balance, the same could be said of the DUPs who also need to learn how to do real politics not just negotiate on constitutional agreements

  • SethS

    Taking everything into account its a middling result for SF. Failure to reach supposed targets, but at the same time a solidification of a core vote base (around the 10% mark), and that with a candidate with a lot of baggage.

    Even if the vote wasn’t that great, I’m sure they will have gathered a lot of useful data and a lot of lessons learned. So, providing the internal debate reflects reality rather than the party line, I would put the campaign down as a reasonable investment.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Where are they marching to

    God knows where.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Rory,that Churchillian Speech brought a tear to my eye. No,it really did………:-)

    I’m not really into politics. Much the same sameness from whatever party.
    But anyone who thought FF were dead after the last Irish General Election,needs a wake up call.
    FF were left holding the baby when the Tigger went tits up.(as it was bound to anyway)
    The shinners attracted the protest vote against FF.
    THAT’S IT.
    A perfect storm,as it were.
    Next time around…………or the time after that,FF will be back in Government.

    The Presidential fiasco,(as predicted by my good self),should serve as a wake up call to all people shinner.
    From my limited knowledge of geography,the only way off a plateau,is down.
    Enjoy the march bhoys. 😉