IT’S all over now…for the moment anyway.
An exhausting weekend in Killarney for candidates and their loyal supporters came to an end on Sunday night after all the successful politicians had been elected just after 8pm.
Brendan Griffin, Martin Ferris and John Brassil were hoisted on high by their supporters and the celebrations began in earnest, with the winning and losing candidates afforded to chance to make a speech from the podium.
It was a sad day for the former Fine Gael Minister Jimmy Deenihan who lost his seat and retires after 30 years in politics. In his speech he thanked the people of Kerry for their support over the years and said he and Arthur Spring of Labour were partly victims of tough decisions made by the Government in the past five years.
Arthur Spring congratulated the winning candidates and praised his own team for their tireless work in the campaign. He said it was a difficult day for the party, but they would survive the result. He also paid tribute to Jimmy Deenihan whom he said has made an enormous contribution to society, not just in Kerry, but nationwide.
The winning candidates also paid tribute to their workers on the ground and had words of condolence and congratulations for candidates.
Fine Gael’s Brendan Griffin said he will not let the people of Kerry down. He paid tribute to the losing candidates, especially his close friend Arthur Spring whom he said did fantastic work and was sure he would be back. He also paid tribute to his mentor Jimmy Deenihan who gave him a chance. He said the former Minister was “the hardest working man I ever came across and wish you well for the future”.
Deputy Griffin also thanked his political team and especially his parents and his wife Róisín.
Fianna Fail’s John Brassil said it gave him no pleasure to be elected on the day that Jimmy Deenihan lost his seat. “He’s a true gentlemen of politics and a great friend of mine. You’ve served the people of Kerry well,” he said.
He thanked the Fianna Fail team in Kerry, the canvassers and especially Norma Moriarty, whose transfers, he said, brought him over the line. “We worked so well together. You’re a gentle and very kind woman, with a great future in politics and I thank you sincerely,” he said.
He had special thanks for his family for their support, including his mother Mary. “She had a very bad year of health and she’s here tonight. I hope today is the start of your return to good health,” he said.
Sinn Féin’s Martin Ferris also had kind words for the losing candidates, especially Jimmy Deenihan, whom he said he has known over 40 years from the sporting fields to the political arena.
“We’ve had political rows but we’ve remained friends. He has 33 years as a servant of the people of Kerry and deserves recognition for that,” he said. He also promised the people of Kerry that he would continue to serve them to the best of his ability.
“I want to assure you, while there is breath in my body, I will do everything in my power to bring about a fairer and more just society and more equality for our people,” he said.
Danny Healy Rae said the people in Dublin just don’t get it and while the politicians pay big money to advisors, the only advisors they have are the people of Kerry.
He credited his father Jackie Healy Rae for the election victory and said they learnt everything from him. He also thanked the army of canvassers and workers on the ground who made the victory possible and also paid tribute to Jimmy Deenihan and the other losing candidates.
Last up was his brother Michael who said it was a tough year for him after losing his mother and father and two great friends Arthur Lenihan and Bernard Collins.
He promised the people of Kerry that they would work tirelessly and do their best for the people of Kerry.
“You’re trusting us with your vote. In return, what ye’ll get is a sound, solid political service both from myself and Danny and from Cllr Johnny Healy Rae. We’ll do a simple thing always and that is our level best,” he said.
So ended Election 2016 in Kerry. What happens next is anyone’s guess but one thing is certain; no candidate wants to through that again for a while. Scroll down for more photos…