At the end of a day in which Fine Gael were taking a substantial hit at polling booths across the country, it was no wonder that embattled Taoiseach Enda Kenny wanted to finish on a high note.
The party’s leader arrived in the Longford-Westmeath count centre shortly after 9pm to congratulate his party’s newest TD Gabrielle McFadden and celebrate the big success story of the day for the party.
And in spite of attempts by his handlers to usher him out after the requisite RTÉ interview, Mr Kenny seemed content to linger, answering questions and agreeing to several unscheduled inteviews.
While their coalition partners Labour took the brunt of the electoral backlash, Fine Gael’s vote share dropped by over 12 per cent since the last General Election.
Speaking at the count centre, Mr Kenny conceded it had not been a good day for either of the Government parties, and that the increase in support for Sinn Féin had brought about a substantial shift in the political landscape.
“It’s been a good day and a bad day. Elections are about people and Fine Gael has lost a substantial number of seats across the county. The reality is that people are sending a very clear message to the Government. It’s a very sad day for the Labour party.
“It will be up to Sinn Féin to serve the people who elected its candidates,” he added.
Congratulating Deputy McFadden who was officially elected later that night, he said it was “a day tinged with nostalgia and sadness”, referring to her winning the seat left vacant following the death of her sister Nicky in March from motor neurone disease.
“This is a sign of the trust placed in Gab by the people of this constituency and I know she will serve the people of Longford-Westmeath very well,” he added.