Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said the local election results for his party have been "disappointing".
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he commiserated with the Sinn Féin councillors who lost their seats.
"This has been a disappointing election for Sinn Fein, we have lost a number of very valuable councillors who were doing valuable work, I commiserate with them and their families," he said.
"There's no doubt about it, this has been a blow to Sinn Fein. That being said, we're still the third largest party at local government level, we still have representation across the island of Ireland at that level, our people will be dusting themselves down, that's what we will be doing, dusting ourselves down collectively.
We need to look at what went wrong and where, we can see that our vote didn't come out, there is the issue of apathy, there was support on the doorsteps but it didn't materialise.
He said in many areas voters didn't turn out.
"The point is if your vote doesn't come out somebody else is going to take the seats, it was very clear that in some of our core areas the vote didn't turn out, we need to look at that, at how we're not getting our message through, how we're not exciting enough people to come out and vote at the ballot box."
He added that Sinn Féin's surge in support in th last local elections "always going to be difficult to retain".
"No two elections are the same and our priority isn't about being in government, our priority is about delivering change, there's no doubt about it the amount of people that put their faith in Sinn Féin, who have elected our councillors, they want that change.
"It's our job to learn lessons from this election, any election that you don't learn lessons from, it's a bad day, this was a disappointing election from us, we would rather have done a lot better, but we had that massive surge (five years ago) and at the level of that it was always going to be difficult to retain that."
Regarding the government in Northern Ireland, Mr Doherty said voters did not mention it on the doorsteps.
"We want to get back to the Assembly, but we need a partner that will do that deal with us," he said.
Not being in government in the North did not come up on the doorsteps.