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Saturday 18 August 2018

Conor Lenihan: I am not taking this defeat personally -- the FF banner was a very damaged brand

When the political tide is out it pulls everyone with it.

The election last week has devastated Fianna Fail.

In my own case I am still wondering why it all came to this.

For 14 years I worked hard in what is a very demanding constituency. The last few years of recession effectively wiped out all of that work.

With only one TD in Dublin, Fianna Fail is staring at the abyss.

Anyone who lost their seat in the city can comfort themselves with the thought that this was not a personal defeat.

I had a clinic case load that ran to thousands.

My constituency colleague Charlie O'Connor and I worked harder than most on the constituency side. Countless numbers of voters on the doorsteps told me that they admired me and appreciated my work but they would not vote Fianna Fail this time.

The individual was fine but the party banner was a severely damaged brand.



Polite

When one pointed to the major facilities, financial resources and projects that one had delivered, it was greeted with polite acceptance by the voter.

The key point here is that this was a national election like no other. The voters refused to allow local issues to intrude into or cloud their thinking.

When it became clear that Fine Gael was going to win, quite a lot of Fianna Fail voters jumped ship.

Many of them transferred directly across to Fine Gael.

Ours is a volatile electorate. Well in excess of 70pc are now floating voters.



Hope

In this fact alone, there is hope for Fianna Fail. If they turned once, they can turn again.

Many who voted Fine Gael this time out did so in the hope of keeping Labour out of power. They will be the first to turn when the coalition is formed.

Large majorities in the Dail are not always a recipe for stability. The idealism and ambition of those deputies, many elected for the first time, can quickly turn sour.

With little and less in the public coffers, Enda Kenny will need all of his wisdom of 31 years in the Dail to keep his show on the road.

Conor Lenihan is a former TD and Minister for Science, Technology & Innovation

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