At least 10 current and former ministers, one party leader and two deputy leaders, government backbenchers from political dynasties, and a string of vocal opposition voices have been swept from the board after Friday’s shock vote.
And while the majority will believe they can find a way back onto the political scene after a period of licking their wounds, for many election 2016 could be the end of their political careers.
For Labour — which suffered a devastating result that risks setting the party back a generation — the loss of communications minister Alex White (Dublin Rathdown), and junior ministers Kevin Humphreys (Dublin Bay South), Ged Nash (Louth), and Kathleen Lynch (Cork North Central) will be among the most difficult of many departures to take.
However, the unseating of high-profile TDs Arthur Spring (Kerry), Ciarán Lynch (Cork South Central), Ciara Conway (Waterford), Michael McNamara (Clare), Emmet Stagg (Kildare North), and Anne Ferris will further compound the party’s woes as it faces a battle to even gain enough seats to have speaking rights in the Dáil.
Speaking about his loss on Saturday evening, Mr White said he has not made any final decision on what the future holds, admitting: “it’s always difficult to make those big life decisions on a day like this”.
“I came to politics late and some people might say I’m leaving it early,” the now former TD said.
His party colleague, now ex-junior minister Kevin Humphreys, was equally contemplative at the RDS count centre yesterday, saying the party’s plan was “to fly high, jump out of the plane, and hope the parachute opens. But it didn’t open.”
Alan Shatter thanks his family for their support. pic.twitter.com/Xpmd7WNygu— RTÉdublinRathdown (@RTEdubrathdown) February 27, 2016
A similar situation awaits Fine Gael’s former justice minister Alan Shatter (Dublin Rathdown), backbencher and former junior minister John Perry (Sligo-Leitrim), ex-health committee chair Jerry Buttimer (Cork South Central), junior minister Tom Hayes (Tipperary), junior minister Paudie Coffey (Waterford), backbencher Tom Barry (Cork East) — and most damaging of all, children’s minister James Reilly (Dublin Fingal).
The latter, who is also Fine Gael’s deputy leader, told reporters while clutching his wife’s hand yesterday he does not know if this is his political end, and blamed his health ministry scandals for the defeat.
Triumphant Fianna Fáil has also suffered setbacks, with ex-education minister Mary Hanafin (Dún Laoghaire) — who bullishly claimed “there’s a big difference between losing and not winning” — and mental health spokesperson Colm Keaveney (Galway East) missing out, Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson Padraig MacLochlainn (Donegal) was also at risk of being squeezed out in the now merged constituency last night, while Renua is facing complete Dáil wipeout, alongside Independent TD Peter Mathews (Dublin Rathdown) and Independent senator Averil Power (Dublin Bay North).