Labour TD who faces loss of seat jokes 'I might write a screenplay'

Bt Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, political reporter

Update 4.30pm: A Labour TD who is set to lose her seat has joked she may "go off and write a screenplay" now she will no longer be in the Dáil.

Joanna Tuffy, who is expected to fail to retain her position in Dublin mid west and has accepted she will not be re-elected, made the remark before the first count just before 4pm.

After the first count, Ms Tuffy was in eighth place out of 13 candidates in the four-seat constituency on 2,146 votes, almost 6,500 off the needed quota.

Asked what she is likely to do now her time in the Dáil appears certain to come to an end, the Labour member joked: "My reaction this morning was, after the initial reaction where you absorb the information, what will I do? Will I run for the Seanad? Will I write a screenplay? What will I do? I always fancied it."

Earlier:

A second outgoing Labour TD has said the party should not try to remain in government because it is clear voters do not want them to stay in power.

Joanna Tuffy said the reality of what has happened "needs to be taken into account" by senior party figures after an election wipe-out for the junior coalition member.

Speaking before the first count in Dublin mid west, which is expected before 4pm, Ms Tuffy accepted she is about to lose her seat after a poor showing saw her slump far behind other competitors in the constituency, said Labour has clearly been given a vote of confidence.

And speaking just hours after retiring TD for the same area Robert Dowds made the same remarks, she said while there may be a temptation to try and remain in power in her view the party should go into opposition.

"In some ways I don't want to pre-empt a wide debate in my party, but in some ways the voters voted for us not to have Labour and Fine Gael in government. So that's something that needs to be taken into account," Ms Tuffy said.

"I'm not sure what the voters wanted, but I don't think necessarily we should step into the breach to provide that [a multi-coalition government].

"I need time to think about it, but my first thoughts would be the voters didn't vote for the government, they didn't vote to keep Fine Gael and Labour in. That needs to be taken into account by both parties. I wouldn't want to pre-empt what people say, but I would certainly be thinking it's not for us to say [whether Labour goes back into power]."

Speaking hours earlier at the count centre in City West, Mr Dowds said Labour will not be in the next government and should not consider trying.

"I don't think Labour will be in the next government, that's for sure. I think we have to accept the verdict of the public," the outgoing Dáil public accounts committee member said.

"I don't know how many seats we have at this stage, but we have to re-group. As the two biggest parties are likely to be Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the onus will be on them to step up to the plate [and form a coalition]. I don't imagine Sinn Féin will be interested in stepping up to the plate," he said.

Full confidence in Joan Burton

Meanwhile, writes Juno McEnroe, Labour’s Joe Costello, who looks set to lose his seat, agreed that Labour would probably not go back into Government now and that it needed to regroup.

He also said he had full confidence in party leader Joan Burton.

The former minister, arriving at the RDS in Dublin, said he was disappointed and it looked very much like he would lose his seat in Dublin Central.

Asked what went wrong for Labour during the election campaign, he replied: “When we made the decision to go into government, we made some very harsh decisions but we did that knowing full well that it was in the interests of the country.”

But Mr Costello admitted that the electorate had punished Labour for those decisions. He added:

“I would be very surprised if Labour was to go into the coming government.”

Asked about the Labour leadership under Joan Burton with the party now looking to return only single digit numbers in TDs, he answered:

“That’s a matter for down the road. But for the present time, it’s about reflecting on what happened for ourselves.”


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