Labour's Willie Penrose has been elected in Longford-Westmeath after a marathon count
Published 03/03/2016 | 08:21
Labour's Willie Penrose has been elected in Longford-Westmeath after a marathon count.
His election means the Labour party will have seven seats in the next Dail.
Fine Gael TD James Bannon has lost his seat by six votes following a nerve-wrecking count that dragged on through the night.
In what has been dubbed the Siege of Keenagh, Bannon and Labour's Willie Penrose were locked in a tug-of-war war for votes, and political survival. Both were neck and neck until the last round of transfers which were announced at 5.30am.
The Labour man was not only fighting to save his political career but also his party's Dail speaking rights.
Speaking on Morning Ireland this morning, Labour’s Willie Penrose revealed his relief of winning the final seat in the Long/Westmeath constituency.
“There was a touch of the Lazarus about it. My winning a seat shows you the vagaries of the proportional representation system – if ever anyone wants to see it in action, then is it. I’m delighted to have won. This is my sixth time to be elected to the Dail.”
“It is also very important in terms of the Labour Party – I am the seventh member and that is essential for the party in the next Dail.
He said that Labour would be serving in opposition in the next Dail.
“Our job will be in Opposition. We will not be participating in any Government configurations whatsoever. Our job is to rebuild the Labour Party now.”
He also ruled himself of running in any leadership battle within the Labour Party.
“No, I think I was beaten by 27 votes when I went for the Deputy Leader’s job. My job is to help with reorganisation of the party and I hope to play a very active role in that.”
Bannon also had to salvage his Dail career and try to prevent Longford being without a TD of their own.
However, at 5.30am chief returning officer Imelda Brannigan gave the latest results and Bannon with 7,081 was six behind Penrose. Following his elimination a devastated Bannon told reporters that given the close margin he will have to take careful advice on “whether or not to purse a legal option”.
He also spoke of his disappointment that 33 per cent of Longford votes went to candidates from outside the county
More to follow.