Fenian Voice

Irish Independent
14 June 2004

Sinn Fein shooting ahead with target to triple its number of council seats
Brian Dowling
Political Correspondent

THE surge in votes for Sinn Fein was evident in virtually every constituency
with the party comfortably on target to triple its seats in city and county

Sinn Fein entered the election with 23 councillors; as of late last night the
party was predicting it would have about 60 councillors when the votes were

When account is taken of urban district councils and town councils, the party
expected to hold at least 110 seats and perhaps as many as 130.

Nationally the party will take about 10pc of the vote, again a three-fold
increase on its performance in 1999.

The party's leadership will be heartened by the fact that the gains have come
from almost every electoral area, with Sinn Fein doing particularly well in
Dublin and other cities.

As expected, the party performed exceptionally well in Donegal, Cavan and

Indeed, such is the party's huge organisation in Cavan-Monaghan - at the
latest count last night it held 27 seats - Sinn Fein will now be ready to mount a
serious challenge for a second Dail seat in this constituency.

However, that strong showing is not confined to the Border areas. The party
made several gains in Cork, Tipperary, Laois, Mayo, Meath, Kildare, Galway,
Kerry, Wexford and Waterford.

In city councils the party started the election with 5 councillors - and now
has 15. In county councils it started out with 18 seats - and had 33, heading
for 38, late last night. The party is now alongside Fianna Fail and Fine Gael
in Dublin City Council with ten seats; it has taken three seats in South
Dublin and one seat in Fingal.

Sinn Fein has now established a strong foothold in local politics; with the
party's attention to detail and its well-organised electoral machine, it can
look realistically to increasing its Dail representation from 5 to possibly
double figures at the next general election.

Apart from the success of local candidates in urban and rural areas, two of
its unsuccessful Euro-candidates - John Dwyer in the East constituency and
David Cullinane in the South - are firmly positioned to launch challenges for the

In Waterford, David Cullinane performed exceptionally well. Throughout the
city and county, the party polled over 10,000 first-preference votes. On those
figures, Sinn Fein can target Waterford as a likely gain in the next general

There's a similar story in Wexford where John Dwyer, along with three party
colleagues, was elected to both the county council and New Ross town council.

Dwyer's campaign in the Euro election also gave him a high profile that
should leave him positioned to mount a credible challenge for the Dail.

The party's two best hopeful's for Europe - Mary Lou McDonald and Pearse
Doherty - were still in contention for seats at the time of writing. If they don't
succeed, both of them are in strong positions for the next general election

All told, Sinn Fein has achieved the kind of breakthrough that was predicted
in the polls.

Yesterday, Martin McGuinness was quick to scotch any notion that this would
be a once-off breakthough.

Mr McGuinness predicted that Sinn Fein would successfully build on the
results of these elections in the years ahead.

Party leader Gerry Adams also sent a message to Fine Gael and Labour that he
believed they should not automatically rule Sinn Fein out of the equation of a
possible coalition after the next general election.

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