AS day two of the General Election 2016 count in Mayo commences, outgoing Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin is aware of the battle to hold her seat that lies ahead, writes Brian Gillespie.
“I feel that we're in the middle of a drama, as often happens in politics. I'm still standing and I'm still in the race, and I think we're in a situation now where it's pretty unprecedented, the number of candidates, and I don't think it's clear where the transfers are going to go. I don't think anyone can call it. I don't think the even the best pundits here can tell you where they're (transfers) going to go.”
It very much looks like it will be a battle between Mulherin and Fianna Fáil's Lisa Chambers for the final seat in Mayo. The resurgence of Fianna Fáil has left the FG candidate a bit baffled. She said she found it 'quite remarkable but not surprising'.
“They destroyed this country practically,” she added. “We ended up having to make very tough decisions that weren't popular - which is the last thing any politician wants to do - because it was for the greater good and in the public interest. We're reaping the benefits today and I believe we're on a very positive trajectory. This isn't a recovery that happened by accident.
“But when it comes to democracy, we can never consider it a problem how people vote. It's great that we live in a democracy; there are many people that don't. I guess that's part of the excitement of it, because people can give you a response or an answer that you never quite expect.”
A power-sharing arrangement with the sworn enemy is a non-runner as far as Mulherin is concerned. “From my personal point of view I wouldn't be for it at all. The leader of Fianna Fáil and many others were around when the IMF were brought in. They're still there, and I don't think they've covered themselves in glory the last five years.
“I wouldn't be for it at all but the people have spoken. We don't have to strain ourselves too much in relation to that. There are some more natural bedfellows for Fianna Fáil; I don't think it's Fine Gael.”
So what then? Another election? “That's what a lot of the experts are saying. I guess you don't need to be an expert to consider that to be a possibility. Even here in this constituency, when you see so many people running, and you see that there are Independents and so many different groupings now, we're definitely in a sphere we haven't been in before - unchartered political territory. It'll be very interesting to see where we go to from here county-wide and nationally.”