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Presidential election fallout

Story by Tadhg Carey

Wednesday, 2nd November, 2011 5:00pm

Michael D. Higgins has been elected to succeed Mary McAleese as President of Ireland after an election campaign riven by controversy and, in the main, devoid of a meaningful debate as to the nature of Ireland of the future.

Higgins's election came after a collapse in support for Sean Gallagher, who had led the opinion polls until close to the end of the campaign.

His dramatic decline from grace arose following an exchange with Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness

The mist has yet to fully clear surrounding that particular incident and it will be interesting to learn if the media gets to the bottom of what occurred.

The other key incident of the campaign happened in Athlone when David Kelly, son of Private Paddy Kelly who was killed during an attempt to free kidnap victim Don Tidey, confronted McGuinness over the identity of his father's killers.

The paltry vote achieved by Fine Gael's candidate Gay Mitchell has been attributed to the party choosing a candidate with the wrong profile, but there must be concerns within Fine Gael that part of the reason for its poor showing was due to a growing public disenchantment with the party.

The unimpressive display by the Fine Gael candidate in the Dublin West by-election combined with the defeat of the Oireachtas Inquiries Referendum are further straws in the wind indicating a disillusionment with Fine Gael.

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