Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Sunday, 7 June 2009 18:09 UK

Irish to continue reform agenda

Mannix Flynn, the writer and actor, won a seat as an independent councillor
Mannix Flynn, (l) the writer and actor, won a seat as an independent councillor

The Irish government will continue to implement economic reforms, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has said.

He was speaking as counting continued in the European elections in the Republic of Ireland.

The results of the local elections and two by-elections on Saturday saw the two government parties punished by the Irish electorate.

Mr Lenihan said the government has been "under siege" with the banking and economic crisis over recent months.

Mr Lenihan said Prime Minister Brian Cowen will stick to his economic reform policies.

"He is up for this, he is very much up for this and we will continue to implement our policies," he said.

Sinn Fein's deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, will find out if she keeps her Dublin seat as a Member of the European Parliament.

An exit poll by broadcaster RTE suggested that at 15% she had the edge over both Fianna Fail and the Socialist Party.

In the local elections and by-elections Fianna Fail, the party of Mr Cowen, received 24.55% of the first preference vote, 7.5% fewer than in 2004.

The Green Party, the junior party in the Republic's coalition government, lost all its city and county council seats in Dublin, where most of its TDs are based.

In the Dublin South Dail by-election, Fine Gael's George Lee, a former RTE economics editor, topped the poll with 53.4% of the first preference vote.

Brian Cowen
Brian Cowen said they would work to fix the recession

He said that it was "only a matter of time until there is a change in government".

His party leader, Enda Kenny, said that it had been a historic day for his party with its largest share of the vote since 1932.

Mr Cowen has said his government would serve its full term until a general election due in 2012.

Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said that Mr Cowen's leadership would not be challenged over the result and that they would work to tackle the impact of the downturn.

"The economic crisis is the single most important factor in these results," he said.

Mannix Flynn, the writer and actor, won a seat as an independent councillor beating high profile Fianna Fail and Labour candidates.

The 52-year-old attracted over 1,300 first-preference votes, some 600 more than Sarah Ryan, a sitting Fianna Fail councillor and daughter of Fianna Fail MEP, Eoin.

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