Mary Butler becomes first new FF female TD since 2007
Published 01/03/2016 | 02:30
It was supposed to be all about the two Johns in Waterford, Deasy and Halligan, but shortly after boxes were opened it became clear that the story here concerned a first-time general election candidate.
Waterford County Councillor Mary Butler swept to victory and passed the quota on the first count. Her sensational haul of 10,603 first preferences even shocked the newly elected TD herself.
As she arrived at the count centre she told the Irish Independent: "I was confident when I saw the exit polls, but to get over 10,000 votes is incredible. This is a great day for Fianna Fáil and I'm very proud that the people of Waterford have put their faith in me." She became the first female TD elected for Fianna Fáil since 2007.
Sinn Féin's David Cullinane and Independent John Halligan fared well throughout the county. Mr Cullinane took the second seat on the sixth count, and Mr Halligan easily passed the quota on the eighth.
Mr Cullinane, a sitting senator, secured his seat at the fourth time of asking and was congratulated by Martin McGuinness, who visited the count centre.
Mr Halligan, a member of the Independent Alliance, said: "The people have spoken and they clearly want us all to sit down and form a government. I don't believe we should be back here again in a few months for a second election."
Meanwhile, the outgoing government TDs watched as their first-preference vote from 2011 plummeted.
Labour's Ciara Conway secured well over 5,000 first preferences five years ago but got less than half that this time.
Between them, John Deasy and outgoing Minister of State Paudie Coffey lost over 5,500 votes since 2011. The two Fine Gael candidates had to wait to discover their fate - in the ninth and final count, Mr Deasy held onto his seat by just 567 votes ahead of his party colleague.