On Thursday morning, ALDE Party Vice-President and former Irish MP Timmy Dooley stopped by the ALDE Party Headquarters to talk about the results of the Irish elections. The event was moderated by Carmen Descamps, European Affairs Manager for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
The event kicked off with Dooley giving a recap of the election results, with ALDE member party Fianna Fáil winning the most seats at 38, populist party Sinn Féin gaining the most number of seats for a total of 37 seats, and outgoing ruling party Fine Gael ending with 35 seats. 80 seats are needed for a majority, meaning that at least 3 parties will need to form a coalition together, a task that will prove difficult given the ideological differences between the main parties.
Dooley then spoke about what motivated Irish voters in this election, specifically citing a shortage of affordable housing and long wait times for medical care. The previous government in Ireland struggled to find a way to disperse the benefits of a rebounded Irish economy back to the people after the global financial crisis of 2008. This will again be a key issue for the incoming government to address, but could still prove difficult given the different approaches these political parties have to these issues.
The morning ended with a question and answer portion where audience members asked about topics such as the impact of Brexit on Irish politics, Irish citizens living in the EU or abroad, the importance of the European Green Deal in Ireland, as well as an impromptu singing of happy birthday for Timmy.
Dooley concluded the Liberal Breakfast by saying, “We have gone through a difficult campaign in the last few days, but like all political parties we are committed to the future of our country and the future of the European Union. We have come through a difficult time and we have real challenge ahead, and I could take a negative view but like most people who are around politics understand there are good days and bad days. We are fortunate to live in a part of the world where democracy prevails and the rule of law is respected.
While there are other parts of the EU with strong populist leaders who are moving away from the ideals and principles of our Union, I don’t see that happening in Ireland, and I hope this wave of populism will fade over time, which will depend on the capacity of the incoming administration. There are a lot of positives that we must take from our democracy and not reflect too negatively on it.”