And on the seventh day, Kyne was elected
Published 03/03/2011 | 05:00
THE 166th and final candidate to be elected to the new Dail finally secured his seat after 67 hours of counting yesterday morning -- and said he couldn't wait to get into Leinster House.
Fine Gael newcomer Sean Kyne survived a marathon second count before becoming the 76th member of his party to gain a seat in the 31st Dail.
But while the 35-year-old spent two sleepless nights at the Leisureland complex in Salthill as weary tellers sifted through the 60,000 votes for the umpteenth time, the REPS farming worker said he couldn't wait to start his new job.
"It has been drawn out but I'm just glad it's all over and that I have won the seat and Fine Gael have secured two in Galway West," said the bleary-eyed new deputy after he was elected at 8.15 am yesterday morning.
The count finished on the seventh day since voting began in the Galway West constituency. Offshore islands went to the polls last week. Mr Kyne, who finished just 17 votes ahead of Independent Catherine Connolly before a recount was called in the early hours of Tuesday morning, became the 76th Fine Gael deputy to be elected.
The second recount, which began around 5pm on Tuesday, saw the gap between the rivals at one stage reduced to 12 votes with two counts left, but in the end Mr Kyne maintained his 17-vote lead.
It was the longest running count ever in Galway and the recount continued at snail's pace throughout the night as representatives of the two candidates scrutinised every vote.
The initial count ended at 6am on Tuesday morning when Mr Kyne pipped Ms Connolly in dramatic circumstances by 9,117 votes to 9,100. At one stage the gap narrowed to 12 votes, sparking fears of another recount. But both candidates lost five votes in the overnight count and Mr Kyne was elected by the same margin by 9,112 to 9,095.
Mr Kyne, an unsuccessful candidate in 2007 who was elected to Galway County Council for the first time two years ago, said the Galway City Outer Bypass, the expansion of Galway Harbour and the Rossaveal development would be among the key issues he would be looking at in government.
And the new deputy, who had voiced his concerns about Fine Gael's policy on the Irish language before the election, said he would be looking to have the plan reviewed, as he felt removing the compulsion at Leaving Cert level was a "step too far".
"Most people in Connemara in the membership of Fine Gael are not happy with the plan. There is no doubt about it that if that policy wasn't there I would be more comfortable, because it was an issue on the doorsteps and not just in Connemara," he said.
He joins Eamon O Cuiv (FF), Derek Nolan (Lab), Brian Walsh (FG), and Noel Grealish (Ind) as the Galway West representatives in the new Dail.
The only other time Fine Gael had two representatives in the constituency was in 1982 when John Donnellan and Fintan Coogan jnr were elected.