It's 1.30pm. We only have tallies so far but already the patterns of this election have become clear. I cannot think of a superlative strong enough to explain what has happened. Flabbergasted. Almost GUBU. FFers will now tell us they knew all along. I know, from talking to FFers over the past couple of days, that they DID NOT KNOW ALL ALONG. The people have spoken. Unfortunatley, their language is not necessarily shared by us!
1. Complete total comprehensive FF victory. 2002? It's beginning to sound like 1997. Two out of three seats in Meath East. Two gains in Kildare North. A gain in Sligo. A gain in Cavan Monaghan. Comfortably hold Cork NW. Have comfortably held all their Dublin seats except...
2. Dublin Central. The Fly in the Ointment may be, Bertie Ahern's own constituency. I live in the consituency and I got a mailshot from FF telling me to vote No 1 Ahern, No 2 Brady and No 3 Fitzpatrick. Thought it was only for my area in Arbour Hill but it seems this was sent out throughout the constituency. Effect is that both of his running mates have been wiped. Mary Fitzpatrick should feel especially hard done by... Dublin Central, by extension, looks like it could elect (against everybody's predictions) a Fine Gael TD, Pascal Donoghue.
3. That is the next big pattern. Fine Gael have had a good election and will make gains of something in the order of 15 seats. They have had a good election, but not as good as their main rivals.
4. The return of the civil ward divide has meant serious squeezage and decline for everybody else. Many of Fine Gael's gains will come at the expense of their putatative Rainbow partners - Labour and the Greens - either sitting TDs or prospective gains.
5. Labour have had a poor campaign. At this stage, they don't look like making any gains and will sustain at least one loss, with another three or four of their seats in trouble.
6. There has been no Green tide. None of their three great hopes, Mary White, Deirdre de Burca and Niall O Brolchain will winn seats, according to the tallies. Ciaran Cuffe and John Gormley are bothvery vulnerable.
7. PD. A near wipe-out. Mae Sexton gone. Tim O'Malley gone. Tom Parlon in trouble. Mc Dowelll battling it for the last seat. Noel Grealish a bit safer. Harney battling. Liz O'Donnell gone. Fiona O'Malley gone. All of their new candidates have been squeezed.
8. Sinn Fein. No tide from the greens of another hue. Sean Crowe is in huge danger in Dublin South West. No gains in Dublin North East or Dublin North West. Donegal South West lookign a bit dodgy. Only Padraig MacLochlainn looks like he has a strong chance.