‘No massive breakthrough’ for the far right in elections – Michael McGrath

There has been “no massive breakthrough” for the far right in the Irish elections, according to early indications, a minister has said.

Two of the Government parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, have polled well based on rough tallies of ballots in Ireland’s local and European Parliament elections.

New parties were formed in the run-up to the elections that called for a clampdown on immigration, as did some independent candidates.

Finance Minister Michael McGrath said that despite immigration being raised by voters during election campaigning, there was “no massive breakthrough for the far right” based on tallies on Saturday evening.

“That can only be a good thing,” the Fianna Fail TD said at Cork City Hall.

“While migration did come up on a lot of doors – and many people do have genuine concerns, legitimate concerns which we are seeking to address – the far right do not represent the Irish people. I think that is clear from the tallies that we have seen so far.

“I’m not surprised by that because the Irish people are very decent and very open minded, and recognise the value of diversity.

“They do want to have an immigration system that is fair, but is also rules-based, and they want to see those rules implemented and enforced consistently and fairly. That’s a message I got at the doors quite a lot.

“There’s no breakthrough here, there’s no tide of support for the far right in these elections from what I can see so far, and that pleases me, I have to say.”

Asked about the same issue and the rise of independents, Tanaiste Micheal Martin said that Ireland has been “electing independents in this country for 100 years”.

Calling himself “a passionate believer in democracy”, he said that “democracy will win out”, and that of the independents who will be elected, “they will be varied and diverse” and not all will be far right.

He then appealed to all independents: “You too have an obligation to make sure that councils run efficiently and effectively, you can’t leave it to the big parties alone.”

“There’s been too much of people having a free lunch on councils for far too long,” he said.

“Some who get elected keep voting against everything, keep objecting to everything, and don’t really make a contribution in terms of the smooth running and the more visionary look forward in terms of how the city or county should look in 10 years’ time.”