I think the entire Irish political system was the loser when Joe Higgins, leader of the Socialist Party, lost his seat in Dublin West.
It shows just how much smaller parties got squeezed as most of the commentators had expected him to retain his seat and bring in party comrade Clare Daly in Dublin North, that didn't happen.
Joe was born in the Lispole area of the Kerry Gaeltacht and he actually trained to become a priest before he became political in America at the time of the Vietnam war.
Joe went to jail in 2003 over his opposition to the bin tax as it has serious consequences for the most vulnerable in society. In 2005 he exposed the exploitation of the Turkish workers by GAMA who had kept 30 million EUROS of their wages without their knowledge.
This lead to Fianna Fáil reptile Conor Lenihan interrupting Joe and telling him to “stick with the kebabs” (in reference to his support of the Turkish workers) during one of his many attacks on the Taoiseach.
I was delighted that the independent deputies of the Dáil decided to elect Joe as their "leader" within the technical group (Independents, Green Party and Sinn Féin).
When Bertie had the audacity to suggest that he was the only Socialist in the Dáil Joe had this to say
“If this conversion was genuine we would have to go back 2,000 years to find another as rapid and as radical. Saul’s embrace of Christianity on the road to Damascus stood the test of time but the Taoiseach’s embrace of socialism on the banks of the Tolka hardly will.”
A week after Joe was dragged by Garda riot police from the gates of Leinster House during an anti-war protest in 2003, McDowell responded to hectoring from Joe in the Dáil by saying,
“I have a right to make a speech without being barracked by somebody who is not a democrat but believes in establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat as soon as he possibly can”.
The only person to truly annoy Bertie was Joe
Joe was attacking the Government for the current state of housing market when Ahern attacked him. He told the Dáil that the cost of buying a house was now beyond most working people and that Fianna Fáil, which receives vast sums of money from developers, was not doing anything to tackle the problem.
Bertie Ahern claimed that Joe was "a failed person". He also said to Joe "you were rejected and your political philosophy has been rejected".
I think Joe can view these attacks by McDowell and Ahern as badges of honour
Irish politics is poorer without his voice in the Dáil, a great shame!