The party now has a significant presence on the new 40-member Limerick City and County Council.
But the real winners in the six electoral districts are Fianna Fáil.
The many fresh new faces elected may get a rude awakening as to how the system works when the new council assembles. It’s a numbers game and those with the numbers share the spoils. You may arrive with the best of intentions and determination, but don’t be surprised if old adversaries in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael join forces to gang up and preserve an old status quo on who gets what in the various committees — and who will head the new council.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and a diminished Labour will have one common purpose on the new Limerick authority: Don’t give the Shinners an inch.
However, Sinn Féin has shown up the mainstream parties with a refreshing candidate selection approach.
Young Sinn Féin candidates have captured huge numbers of votes, with little experience or public exposure.
Lisa Marie Sheehy typifies that exciting mix. The 20-year-old from Kilfinane appeared on the scene only three weeks before the election. In what must be one of the most spectacular trajectories in this election, she took a seat on the first count in the competitive Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district.
Nobody can suggest this young woman carries any sinister baggage from the Troubles. So the usually sniping won’t wash.
Interestingly, she opted to join Sinn Féin because it was the most active party on the UCC campus, where she got into active politics.
While FF have reason to be delighted at their performance, there will be some anxiety about a new name on the block.
Emmett O’Brien, a barrister from Pallaskenry, was a member of the FF national executive, but at a very controversial convention, he failed to get a nomination to run for the party. Undeterred, he set sail as an Independent and was poised to get in.
O’Brien is not the kind of young man who will be content to while away his time on Limerick City and County Council.
This will concentrate a lot of FF and FG minds in the lead-in to the next general election.