Cavan-Monaghan: Caoimhghin O'Caolain tops the poll as sluggish count ends with remarkable turnaround for Fianna Fáil
After two days of tallying, sorting and counting Cavan-Monaghan has elected its four TDs to the 32nd Dail.
Fianna Fail candidates have continued the national trend taken two of the four seats in the constituency in a remarkable turnaround.
Heather Humphreys (Fine Gael), Caoimhghin O’Caolain (Sinn Fein), Brendan Smith and Niamh Smyth (both Fianna Fail) took the four seats in the redrawn constituency on Sunday evening.
Fine Gael’s Heather Humphreys was first across the line in the first count and it would take a further eight counts before somebody else would join her.
The party will be relieved to see Humphreys retain her seat, considering the high profile losses the party suffered the weekend.
She was delighted to have been re-elected and said that the public had spoken and it is up to us to interpret what that means.
Sinn Fein’s longstanding TD Caoimhghin O’Caolain ultimately won the most votes after sluggishly making the quota in the ninth count.
He called for the old boundaries in the constituency to be reinstated, a point echoed by Fianna Fail's Brendan Smith to much applause.
All elected candidates paid tribute to outgoing Fine Gael candidate Joe O’Reilly, who was described by his party colleague as “a great public servant”.
While Ms Smyth said she considered him a friend and a neighbour.
The first count not delivered until 9pm on Saturday night and the final candidates not declared until Sunday evening - it was slow an arduous but ended in a flurry.
The reduction in seats from four to five always meant that at least one outgoing TD was staying out – in fact, two lost their seats.
Joe O’Reilly (Fine Gael) and Sean Conlon (Independent) both lost their seats on Sunday.
Sinn Fein will be disappointed not to have claimed a second seat in Cavan-Monaghan particularly after Ms Reilly’s performance in 2011.
Mr O’Caolain was carried across the quota with transfers from fellow party candidate, Senator Kathryn Reilly.
She had been hotly tipped to claim a seat but was eliminated eighth count.
O’Caolain cited the redrawn borders as a possible reason why the party came up short in the competitive constituency.
Joe O’Reilly speaking of Fianna Fail’s resurgence said, “it’s an extraordinary turn of events, you need a good battling spirit to cope with that, you need a certain resilience,” he explained.
He said it was too early to point fingers but admitted that the slogan ‘keep the recovery going’ may not have hit home as intended across the country.