In a disastrous general election result for Fine Gael, which saw them lose 26 seats nationally on the 2011 results, it was within Cork where the party suffered especially – losing four seats from 2011 and dropping to just five representatives across the five constituencies within the county.
While David Stanton, Dara Murphy, Simon Coveney, Michael Creed and Jim Daly retained their seats in Leinster House, there were election defeats for four sitting Fine Gael TDs – Tom Barry, Jerry Buttimer, Aine Collins and Noel Harrington.
In light of this capitulation, MEP for Ireland-South, Séan Kelly, has said the presence in particular of outgoing Cork East TD, Tom Barry, will be sorely missed in the Dáil, after the Killavullen-native was decisively defeated in last month’s election.
Speaking this week in praise of Mr Barry’s work in the 31st Dáil, Mr Kelly said: “It is not for lack of hard work that Tom Barry has lost his seat and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Tom on what he has achieved as a member of Dáil Éireann for Cork East, and particularly his work on the Oireachtas committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
“Having run his own business before entering the world of politics, Tom is no stranger to the difficulties this can entail and worked tirelessly to support local enterprise.
“Tom was instrumental in the work on the nationwide SME survey carried out as part of the ‘Standing up for Small Business’ campaign, the results of which will be important for the setting of growth and SME-friendly policies in the years ahead.”
Mr Barry was eliminated on the fifth count after picking up 3,461 first preference votes – down over 2,300 votes from his successful run in 2011. In the aftermath of the result, he was critical of the party’s campaign and called for Enda Kenny to step down as party leader, and for Tom Curran to step down as general secretary.
Mr Kelly added: “Having worked closely with Tom on a number of issues, I’m certain he’ll be successful in his next challenges. Hopefully we’ll see him back in Dáil Éireann in the near future.”