Mythen disappointed not to win seat but happy with performance

By Esther Hayden

Published 10/03/2016 | 00:00

Johnny Mythen (right) at the recount in Wexford with Sinn Fein's John Brady who took a seat in Wicklow.
Johnny Mythen (right) at the recount in Wexford with Sinn Fein's John Brady who took a seat in Wicklow.

Despite narrowly missing out on a seat in Dail Eireann Sinn Fein's Johnny Mythen is happy with how both he and the party fared in Wexford.

'I'm feeling grand. I'm quite elated that we (Sinn Fein) got such a high vote in Wexford, getting 9,600 votes. That's a really great achievement for my first time out. Obviously I'm disappointed that I didn't take a seat but at the end of the day what will be will be.

'To be truthful I felt from early on that we would be in contention for a seat. All the pundits were tipping us and just from the reaction on the doors. In the end it came down to a difference of 31 votes after the recount. After the analysis of all the votes there were a couple of ones which were mixed up and there were 31 votes separating myself and Paul Kehoe. I was glad I called for the recount but at the end of the day what's in the pot is in the pot.

'After the recount the returning officer said he was calling the seats and legally it was his call.'

Johnny said that to challenge any decision in the courts would cost Sinn Fein 'serious money', money which the party simply doesn't have. 'It would cost serious money and the party wouldn't be able to afford it. It was disappointing that the voting stamp was not working in certain areas. It should never have happened and the machines should all be checked now and recalibrated. I think there was about 50 votes not punched and these things can decide the outcome of an election. It's not good enough that it happened in Wexford and in other counties.

'Every vote counts and it's important that it's done right.'

During the recount on Monday Johnny was joined not only by Sinn Fein members and supporters in Wexford but from head office in Dublin and some newly elected TDs including John Brady from Wicklow and Kathleen Funchion from Carlow Kilkenny.

With 17 candidates vying for the five seats the first preference votes were spread across the board. However Johnny said 'that's democracy'.

As all eyes are on the major political parties to see what alliance will be made to form a Government Johnny said that Sinn Fein want a seat at the table but not at any cost. 'We have always said that we would prefer to be in Government. But we have a couple of red line issues and we will be sticking with them whatever the cost.

'We have always said that we won't go into Government as a wagging dog's tail. That's what happened with the PDs, the Green Party and Labour and look at them now. Each Government decimated them and they never recovered. History shows what happens if you go into Government as a second class party.

'At the end of the day a lot of people in Ireland voted for change.'

With such an impressive showing in the election Johnny said that he would be willing to run again for the party if his health and family life permits it. 'I'd definitely be happy to go again if everything was right for me. I was looking to win this time, I wasn't just there to take part. I had a good chance. I didn't think that I would be fighting it out for the last seat with the Government Chief Whip but that's what happened.

He said that in the lead up to the election he came under a lot of pressure from various groups and lobbyists trying to get him to commit to a certain viewpoint or issue in return for votes. 'But I wasn't going to promise something I couldn't deliver' he said.

Gracious in defeat Johnny was also quick to congratulate all five newly elected TDs saying that regardless of whether they are in Government or opposition it will not be an easy task.

However he said that while the Government, when formed, might not see out a five year term, he feels that another election is still some distance away.

'If you look at the language of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail you can see a softening. I do think they will go into Government together. They have a mandate to form a Government and obviously there is a fear factor there with some candidates too who only barely managed to get elected. It will be interesting now to see what issues they comprise on.

'I think the first budget will tell its tale. One of the main factors is taxation. We believe that you have to invest in services and to do that you need to have taxes.'

Johnny said he now focusing his energies on local matters having recovered after the election count. 'I was totally exhausted after the count.'

Wexford People

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