Galway West lived up to its billing as one of the constituencies to watch, after voters elected two new females TDs, and the Labour seat held in the city since the 80s was lost.
The talk at the count early on was how Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív had done it again. He managed to top the poll with 9,539 first preferences and it was only a matter of time before he was elected. Thanks to transfers from running mate Mary Hoade, he exceeded the quota on Count 9 on Sunday, his votes totalling an impressive 11,103, 391 votes over the quota.
O Cuiv was joined by his family to celebrate and the cheers rang out across the hall as he was lifted high in the air. By Monday, the deputy was back at work for his constituents.
On the same count, the Labour seat was lost, with Derek Nolan eliminated on a final total of 3,787 votes. Similarly, Independent Fidelma Healy Eames saw her vote drop significantly on her 2011 showing. Back then, she received 5,046 first preferences votes. This time, she received 1,394 and was eliminated on the fifth count with a total vote of 1,657.
Independent TD Noel Grealish was next up to retain his seat after polling 7,187 No.1 votes and was across the line by Count 13 after exceeding the quota.
Talk at the count centre turned to Fine Gael’s outgoing deputy John O’Mahony, who took a decent 4,734 first preferences, 167 votes ahead of party colleague Senator Hildegarde Naughton.
It was thought at first that he would hang on but as transfers were being distributed, the picture became clearer. The outgoing Mayo TD, running in this constituency for the first time, was going to lose his seat. Candidates from Galway City tended to transfer to fellow city candidates, leaving O’Mahony trailing from early on.
It was his elimination and transfers that saw the Galway West count finish with a flurry as three were elected in Count 14. Returning officer Marian Chambers Higgins deemed O’Mahony’s Fine Gael running mates Sean Kyne and Hildegarde Naughton elected, along with Independent Catherine Connolly. The majority of O’Mahony’s transfers predictably went to his party colleagues while Sinn Féin’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh received just 166, meaning he lost out. In the end, 1,052 votes separated Ó Clochartaigh and Naughton.
Sinn Féin however saw their vote in Galway West double and while the disappointment was palpable in the camp after the last count, Ó Clochartaigh said they knew Galway was always going to be tough, but that they would be back.
There were also gains for other parties. Social Democrat candidate, Niall O Tuathail, a first time candidate, received 3,455 first preferences and was remained in the mix until Count 11. His total votes were an impressive 5,278 and he spoke afterwards of building on this showing.
The 2011 count was a mammoth five days. Talk as the count centre started to empty out was of the time and how many couldn’t believe that it was 5.45pm on Sunday and we could all go home. Done and dusted in just two days.
For full count details, see page 27.
Galway West’s TDs:
Eamon O Cuiv (FF)
Noel Grealish (Ind)
Sean Kyne (FG)
Catherine Connolly (Ind)
Hildegarde Naughton (FG)