Oh yes, and Fianna Fail is now the actual largest party in the Republic…

That’s a detail you might miss in all the fun and games. Fianna Fail have edged ahead of Fine Gael in the local councils across the country and now sit on 25% of the vote. That’s a seven per cent rise on the General Election at a time when when there has never been more competition to mainstreams.

As noted about the Sinn Fein surge in Dublin this will mean more FF TDs in parliament.  Despite losing the Dublin Euro seat they now have nine councillors in Dublin, whilst their Dublin West candidate finished second after the Socialist Party Ruth Coppinger and squeezing Sinn Fein’s poll topper Paul Donnelly into third, courtesy of a noticeably improved transfer rate.

Target One on FF’s list was not simply to damage Fine Gael but to start recalling votes that went to FG in the last election. That seems to be accomplished. The Longford Westmeath byelection was tight including a strong showing from former FFer ‘Boxer’ Moran.

As we’ve been patiently pointing out here on Slugger over the last few years the party always had a residual strength across the country even when the polls pegged them as much as 7% behind Sinn Fein.

This was obvious from the number of delegates they’ve been drawing to their last three Ard Fheiseanna. This is why they have punched three points higher than even the RTE exit poll predicted.

That is a substantial resetting of the polling baseline. FG and FF are now neck and neck, with Sinn Fein ten points behind. It gives Fianna Fail a very large swathe of the country to bowl at, and the opportunity to set and develop a new narrative.

Their long time in the national dog house seems to be over just as Ireland’s economic tide is beginning to rise.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty