As the post mortem on the General Election still continue the reality that Donegal South West has witnessed the demise of one of the longest political dynasties was beginning to dawn on residents in Donegal Town as any indication that the Tanaiste had held an office in the town disappeared overnight.
Mary Coughlan as deputy leader of the party was the highest profile Fianna Fáil casualty when she lost her seat in the Donegal South West constituency which she has held for twenty four years.
Prior to her winning the seat it had been held by both her father Cathal and her uncle Clement and traditionally the seat had remained in the Inver area with Joe Brennan, a well known County footballer from Bruckless holding it for 29 years. In total the seat had remained along the Eaney for 53 years.
Ms Coughlan, who still remains Tanaiste until a new Government is formed, said she had not decided on her political future and predicted that Fianna Fáil would regroup and re-establish itself as a major force in Irish politics.
Dressed in vibrant red at the count centre the Tanaiste arrived at the St John Bosco Count centre in Donegal Town on Saturday night at approx. 8.30 pm and after a brief meeting with some of her supporters and election team and a short press briefing, she left before the fourth count which saw her eliminated.
Prior to departing she conceded that it was a gamble running the two Fianna Fail candidates saying, “It was a risk, there is no two ways about it,”
She added that the total of 9,745 first preferences for the two Fianna Fáil candidates was higher than the 8,589 first preferences won by Fine Gael outgoing TD Dinny McGinley and that Fianna Fail’s share of the vote in the constituency was over 20% which was higher than many constituencies.
She indicated she would take time to consider her political future. “I have not made any decisions about my political career,” she said.
A source close to Coughlan commented to this newspaper, “It hasn’t really sunk in with a lot of people around Donegal Town and the surrounding areas that she is no longer a TD - there will still be people dropping out the road to her office looking for this, that or the other.”
When contacted on her mobile phone yesterday, Mary Coughlan was out walking, making the most of the brilliant sunshine, writes Sue Doherty.
She said she did not expect that she would be making any further comment on the electon. “I really have nothing to add to what I said on Saturday night at the count centre.” However, she did not rule it out entirely. “Maybe I will send out a press release. Maybe I won’t. I’ll be home shortly and will get in touch with you through my spokesperson when I’ve decided.”
About an hour later, her spokesperson Sean Perry, rang to say that no statements would be issuing in the short term at least. “Maybe at a later date, she will talk to someone but, for the time being, she is focusing on resuming her life as a private citizen,” he said.