With Sinn Féin having increased its seats nationally to 23, it was ever so close to being 24 with Trevor Ó Clochartaigh still being in the mix right up to the final count.
As the final count was eagerly awaited, the Sinn Féin Senator was 887 votes ahead of his nearest rival Fine Gael Senator Hildegarde Naughton.
That final count involved the transfers from Fine Gael’s John O’Mahony and talk within the count centre was that O’Clochartaigh would be doing very well to get many. And he received just 166 votes and was leap frogged by Senator Naughton who received 2,105 votes. In the end, there was 1,052 votes between them.
As the cheers went up for newly elected Deputy Naughton, the disappointment was palpable in the Sinn Féin camp.
Speaking afterwards, Senator O’Clochartaigh said, “I’m relieved its over to be honest. All the waiting was the hardest part and it was so tight in the end that it could have gone either way.”
He said he was so disappointed for all his team adding that they put in a great effort considering the Fine Gael and O’Cuiv political machines that they were up against.
“We always knew Galway was going to be tough. But we doubled our vote and Sinn Féin is going to be a force to be reckoned with into the future.”
In 2011, he received 4,683. In 2016, he received 8,077.
“People are becoming more open to our message and our policies and every election is an opportunity to sell our policies to the people.”
It comes down to first preferences, he explained. “We are up against the massive machines of O’Cuiv and Fine Gael. But I don’t take anything from them, it is not easy to put yourself forward and I congratulate everyone that got elected.” This time, he received 5,755 up over 1,900 from the 3,808 first preferences he received in 2011.
For now, he is looking forward to having a rest and playing with his children. “Next time, they better watch out. We’ll be back,” he added.
– See more at: https://web.archive.org/web/20160304100159/http://www.galwayindependent.com/politics/topics/articles/2016/03/03/4115569-sinn-fin-a-force-to-be-reckoned-with/#sthash.S24xWYsC.dpuf