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What the four new TDs’ election means for Mayo

Election 2016

FIANNA FÁIL DUO Lisa Chambers and Dara Calleary have taken the last two seats in the four-seater Mayo constituency, and will join Enda Kenny and Michael Ring in the Dáil.

Four consequences of Mayo election

Edwin McGreal

1. Possible Taoiseach
Huge numbers of Mayo people flew in behind Enda Kenny and Fine Gael five years ago and it was a near certainty of Kenny being appointed as Taoiseach.
This time around, it was still anticipated that he would be leading the country after the election and was a short price with the bookies to remain as Taoiseach.
However, Fine Gael’s poor performance nationally means his future in that regard is very much up in the air.
How the next few days and weeks play out will determine whether there will still be a Mayo Taoiseach. If there is, many voters would be hopeful of local delivery.

2. Possible ministers
Much will depend on how a new government is formed and who will be part of it, but right now, neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil can be ruled out of being in government – and the two being in government together is the most widely talked about issue arising from this election.  
As such, the possibility of Mayo TDs in cabinet cannot be discounted.
If Fine Gael are in government, then current Minister of State Michael Ring will be hoping to at least retain a junior ministry. Much of that will depend on how many numbers Fine Gael gets in cabinet and ministries of state, and where Ring fits in that sequence.
If he’s not Taoiseach but Fine Gael is still in power, will there be a place for Enda Kenny in cabinet? It is hard to say.
If Fianna Fáil is part of the next government, then Ballina-based Dara Calleary will be expecting to be in cabinet. He’s currently the party’s spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and is seen as one of the strongest members of Fianna Fáil’s front bench.
It would be unusual to see a first-time TD climb straight to a ministerial role, but at 29, Lisa Chambers will be hoping she will have a long career in Dáil Eireann ahead of her, and the ambitious new TD will not be going to Dáil Eireann to sit on the back benches forever.

3. Geography of the TDs
A much more local concern, but a very significant one nonetheless. Mayo now has three of its four TDs located within 12 miles of each other in west Mayo.
Enda Kenny and Lisa Chambers are Castlebar based, while Michael Ring is over the road in Westport.
Dara Calleary is the exception with his Ballina base, but large parts of the county, particularly in East Mayo and Erris, have no TD based there.
It is not the first time this has happened in Erris, but it is the first time it has happened that we can recall in East Mayo.
That was always on the cards from before the election, with neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil having a candidate based, there but it is worth remarking on nonetheless.
Ultimately, General Election 2016 has restored two TDs to Castlebar and reduced Ballina from a two-TD town to just one.
How much difference this will make to each town is hard to tell, but certainly there’s a sense among many in Castlebar that having two TDs in the town is vital.

4. The start of a slow demise for FG in Mayo?
The high point came five years ago when Fine Gael took an unprecedented four out of five seats in Mayo. It was an absolutely incredible display, but five years on, have we witnessed the start of the slide?
That might seem like a premature comment when you consider Fine Gael were not far away from taking three out of the four seats in Mayo.
However, consider that their two TDs are both in their 60s, while Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary is only in his early 40s and his running mate Lisa Chambers is just 29. Neither of those two Soldiers of Destiny are going anywhere for a while.
It’s not clear who will step up to the mark to match Kenny and Ring’s vote-pulling power when they both step aside in the coming years, and while Michelle Mulherin, the unseated TD, is only in her early 40s too, right now it’s Fianna Fáil that has momentum and youth on its side.
Add in the fact that Sinn Féin’s Rose Conway-Walsh is also in her 40s, and the future for Fine Gael in Dáil elections in Mayo suddenly does not look very promising in the home of their party leader.