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It's girl power as record 23 women head for Dail

THESE are the women who will be injecting some new blood into Leinster House.

Taoiseach-in-waiting Enda Kenny and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore both have huge smiles on their faces today -- and it likely has something to do with their female politicians preparing to take their seats.

It represents the largest number of women in the Dail in history.

With a Fine Gael/Labour coalition expected, these women will have more power than ever.


Fine Gael boasts five new female winners: Aine Collins in Cork North West, Regina Doherty in Meath East, Heather Humphreys in Cavan-Monaghan, Michelle Mulherin in Mayo and Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

And three of their sitting TDs -- Lucinda Creighton in Dublin South East, Catherine Byrne in Dublin South Central and Olivia Mitchell in Dublin South were re-elected.

Former senators Frances Fitzgerald in Dublin Mid-West and Nicky McFadden in Longford-Westmeath have also become TDs.

Labour returned five of its sitting TDs: Joan Burton in Dublin West, Kathleen Lynch in Cork-North Central, Jan O'Sullivan in Limerick City, Roisin Shortall in Dublin North-West and Joanna Tuffy in Dublin Mid-West.

Burton is also expected to be handed a high profile ministerial job over the next week.

Two new candidates also made the grade -- Ciara Conway in Waterford and Anne Phelan in Carlow-Kilkenny.

There were fears that there would be a decline in the number of female politicians.

But the record-breaking figures show that the public is seeking a government make-over.

There are now 23 women elected to government, and experts predict that number could rise to 26 later today.

This year's election may have seen a record number of female TDs taking a seat. Fianna Fail, however, disastrously failed to make the grade.

For the first time in recent years, there will be no female Fianna Fail TDs. In a major blow to the party, high-profile TDs including Tanaiste Mary Coughlan lost out.


The demise of Fianna Fail's female presence mirrors the public's retaliation to the former power players, with Mary O'Rourke having effectively "retired" from politics, and its coalition partner the Green Party also taking a hit with junior minister Mary White losing her seat.

But it is a day for celebrations for ten new female candidates preparing to start work in Leinster House when sessions resume next week.

Sitting Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan regained her seat in Dublin Central and has been joined by Catherine Murphy in Kildare North.

Sinn Fein also performed well with Mary Lou McDonald of Dublin Central and Sandra McLellan in Cork East winning.