Reflecting the national pictured, Labour lost its Galway West seat, and failed to make inroads in Galway East.
One of the biggest casualties for Labour in the election was when very early on, it became clear that it was going to lose the Galway seat first secured by Michael D Higgins in 1981.
Michael D retained this seat from 1987 up to 2011 before passing the mantle on to Derek Nolan while he put himself forward for the job of President.
Early last Saturday at the count centre in NUI Galway, Mr Nolan conceded that the seat was gone. He said he felt “disappointed” but also “relieved”.
“Three weeks ago when the campaign started, we had a fighting chance. But in the last few days, we could feel the tide going out,” he said.“I think the offer that was there to re-elect the government was rejected by the people. I don’t think the people knew who they wanted to vote for and you can see that in the fragmentation of the votes all over the place.”
He added that he knew early on the seat was gone. “It was very obvious from early on that I wasn’t going to get elected. I thought I had a fighting chance and I kept that spirit up for the three weeks of the campaign. But the number ones had gone.” His first preferences were 3,220 down from his poll topping 7,489 first preferences in 2011.
He added that nationally he believes we are looking at a very unstable government.
“It is a sad day for the Labour Party and it is sad that the seat is no longer there. I tried to continue it with honesty, integrity and principle and now I hope that one of the others will pick up that mantle.” He was eliminated on the 9th count with a total of 3,787 votes.
The 33-year-old qualified solicitor said, “It was a privilege to do it, it was wonderful and very satisfying but not very enjoyable. It has been a very difficult five years. I now have to go look for a job!”
Lorraine Higgins said people’s patience “wore thin” and the Labour Party are paying the “ultimate price” as she bowed out of the election race in Galway East on the fourth count.
Despite putting a brave face on her elimination, the disappointment was etched across the Labour Senator’s face. “It’s only natural to feel disappointed as a result of losing out but I fought the good fight and I’ll keep going.
“I did my best in terms of trying to make things work out for me as a candidate but it wasn’t to be this time and such is life,” she added.
Speaking at New Inn, Ms Higgins said it was a “tough” day for her and her party colleague Derek Nolan. “Both of us worked hard for our respective constituencies to deliver funding and do what we could to make lives better for people. We spent three years implementing what the Troika wanted and we had hoped in the last few budgets that things would get better for people and they did marginally but the next five years was to be about social recovery now that we had achieved economic recovery and unfortunately people’s patience wore thin and we have paid the ultimate price.”
However Ms Higgins said she gave the campaign her best shot and has “no regrets”.
Asked what the future holds for her, Ms Higgins said she has a “number of options” to weigh up however she acknowledged this would probably be the last general election she would contest. “I’m not sure whether I will still be in politics or not,” she said.