Independent TD Seán Canney topped the poll in Galway East and will enter the Dáil with Fianna Fáil newcomer Anne Rabbitte and re-elected Fine Gael TD Ciarán Cannon.
Regarded as the outright favourite to top the polls, there was no surprise when Canney claimed the first seat in the Galway East constituency last Saturday evening at New Inn.
He surpassed the quota on the sixth count with 12,707 votes. Deputy Canney said he felt “really proud” to be elected to the Dáil for Galway East but dismissed any talk of being the favourite in the lead up to the election.
“The tag of being a favourite can work against you at times so I would have been cautious about even talking about that during the campaign.
“You would have thoughts in your mind that you would top the poll but like you dream of playing in an All-Ireland football final and scoring the goal that will win the match, you put them thoughts to the back of your head because you just don’t know what will happen until the votes come out of the boxes,” he said.
Flooding is number one of Canney’s list of things to address in the Galway East constituency as well as other issues such as employment, broadband, SMEs, rural towns, post offices and schools.
He described his election as a “great day” for Independents but said regardless of who goes into government, the parties must work together.
He said there has to be a “common sense approach”.
“We need to make sure that democracy is working properly and that when a TD is elected they are able to perform, they are able to speak freely, introduce policies and legislation that they feel is important and we need to work together.”
Deputy Canney was followed closely by first-time runner Anne Rabbitte who took the second seat with 12,255 votes and, in doing so, wrote her name into the history books by becoming the first woman in decades to win a seat in Galway East, and the first representing Fianna Fáil.
Describing it as a “smashing result”, Deputy Rabbitte said her victory was down to “a lot of hard work”.
“We have been out there since the beginning of January and there was a good team behind Anne Rabbitte. It wasn’t just one person. Last Wednesday night I had 62 people out right across Galway and as I described it to one of my running mates it was like a rash across east Galway, there was so many people out!”
Canney’s Director of Elections Billy Kenneally from Belclare is now set to take his seat on Galway County Council however it is still unknown who will take Deputy Rabbitte’s seat.
Similarly, new Galway West TD Catherine Connolly has yet to confirm her nominee for Galway City Council.
The third seat in Galway East went to Ciarán Cannon who said he expected “the margin to be much tighter” between himself and his fellow party member Paul Connaughton Jnr.
Deputy Cannon said he knew once he read the exit polls on Saturday morning there would only be one Fine Gael seat up for grabs in Galway East.
He believes if Fine Gael’s numbers had been more positive nationally both Connaughton and himself could have retained the two seats, however he said he was thrilled to be re-elected. “I am delighted to be back in the Dáil. I love the job that I do. I enjoy it immensely and to have people putting their trust in you once again for the next five years is a great honour.”
Labour’s Lorraine Higgins and Fianna Fáil’s Colm Keaveney were the big casualties on the day in New Inn, with both being eliminated on the fourth and fifth counts respectively.