FOR the first time in 57 years Fine Gael have returned two Dail deputies and Louth will have a minister, a football manager and a party president in Dail Eireann.
Fergus O’Dowd is certain to get a senior cabinet position and poll topper Gerry Adams should lead the Sinn Fein parliamentary party who trebled their seats.
The Fine Gael vote management worked brilliantly on the day and Peter Fitzpatrick is the first first-time candidate to take a seat since Dermot Ahern won for Fianna Fail back in 1987. A new era has begun.
The Fine Gael vote jumped from 29.37 per cent to 31.5 per cent.
By mid afternoon on Saturday it was becoming clear that Louth senior football manager Peter Fitzpatrick was set to take the fourth seat proving the The Dundalk Democrat’s exclusive opinion poll right.
By then even the Fianna Fail wise men admitted the writing was on the wall.
For Fergus O’Dowd it was a personal triumph. He entered politics back in 1974 and after 37 years he is at the very top. His vote increased by 4,000 on 2007.
Sinn Fein also triumphed. When the long awaited first count came through and Gerry Adams was lifted shoulder high.
Adams took 21.7 per cent of the first preferences and was elected on the first count with 15,072.The support for Sinn Fein jumped from 14.88 per cent in 2007 to 21.95 per cent. O’Dowd took 20.02 per cent and was elected with 13,980.
It was a great day for the Labour Party as they took back the seat they lost to Sinn Fein in 2002 when Arthur Morgan replaced outgoing Labour deputy Michael Bell.
But this time round Labour saw their vote jump from 4.9 per cent to 19.01 per cent.
It was a massive turnaround for the party and a personal success story for Ged Nash
It was a sad day for Fianna Fail. Seamus Kirk was returned unopposed but their two contenders Declan Breathnach and James Carroll cancelled themselves out.
Before the election, James Carroll was running fourth in Drogheda, behind Fergus O’Dowd, Ged Nash, and Gerry Adams of Belfast.
His main stronghold was mid-Louth and that was because he had the backing of headquarters and was allowed to move into the Kirk territory much to the annoyance of Breathnach’s supporters.
Declan Breathnach lost out to Sinn Fein in the Dundalk area where Adams supporters pushed the hospital issue.
But Fianna Fail could have still taken a seat if they had run just one candidate.
What happened in Louth was repeated right across the country. In many constituencies you had two Fianna Fail candidates whose vote split down the middle and the party failed to take a seat that could have been won.