Coppinger: Win is a result for ordinary working people

Ruth Coppinger pictured today. Picture: PA

By Sean McCarthaigh

The Socialist Party’s Ruth Coppinger survived an early scare of failing to top the poll to win the Dublin West by-election on the sixth and final count without reaching the quota.

The Mulhuddart-based councillor confirmed her status as pre-election favourite to fight off strong challenges from both Sinn Féin’s Paul Donnelly and Fianna Fáil’s David McGuinness.

Donnelly, who confounded predictions by becoming the surprise poll-topper on first preferences, failed to attract sufficient transfers on subsequent counts to stay ahead of third-place rival, McGuinness.

The Sinn Féin candidate’s elimination and the transfer of his 7,000 plus votes helped to push Coppinger over the winning line and stretching her margin of victory over McGuinness to more than 3,000 votes.

The win means Coppinger, who was also re-elected to Fingal County Council on the first count yesterday, will now join her party leader and constituency colleague Joe Higgins in the Dail taking the seat following the resignation of Patrick Nulty earlier this year.

However, there is no danger of the pair becoming political rivals in future elections as Higgins has already announced his intention to retire from politics at the next general election.

Speaking at the count centre in Citywest, Ms Coppinger said her victory represented a great result for ordinary working people who were tired of the Government’s programme of austerity.

The newly-elected TD also called for a mass campaign of opposition to the water charges.

Despite failing to win the seat, the bye-election also represented a good result for Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil who would seem set to gain seats in the constituency at the next general election.

Their respective candidates, Donnelly and McGuinness were also, like Coppinger, elected on the first count in the Mulhuddart electoral area of Fingal County Council.

For the coalition parties, the poor performance of Fine Gael’s Eamonn Coughlan and Labour’s Lorraine Mulligan will even raise questions about the safety of seats held in the constituency by both Leo Varadkar and Joan Burton.

Coughlan, a high-profile Fine Gael senator only finished in a disappointing fifth place just behind independent candidate, David Hall, who has campaigned nationally to help people facing bankruptcy and mortgage arrears

The performance of the Labour Party was even more disastrous with Mulligan finishing 7th of ten candidates, attracting just over 5% of the vote, compared to 24% at the last bye-election in Dublin West in 2011 and 29% in the 2011 general election.

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