Friday 9 December 2016

Recount in 'group of death' Dublin Bay North set to continue well into the night

Jane O'Faherty

Published 29/02/2016 | 20:57

General scene at RDS Count centre as the full recount for the Dublin Bay North constituency is under way Credit: Fergal Phillips
General scene at RDS Count centre as the full recount for the Dublin Bay North constituency is under way Credit: Fergal Phillips
Independent Senator Averil Power at the RDS Count centre, as the full recount for the Dublin Bay North constituency is under way Credit: Fergal Phillips.
General scene at RDS Count centre as the full recount for the Dublin Bay North constituency is under way Credit: Fergal Phillips.

A recount of votes in the so-called “group of death” Dublin Bay North is set to continue well into tonight.

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The recount, called for by Independent candidate Senator Averil Power on Sunday night, began at around 11.30am this morning.

Ms Power made the request after she was just 67 votes behind fellow Independent candidate Tommy Broughan.

By the time votes for Mr Broughan, AAA/PBP candidate John Lyons and Fianna Fáil’s Sean Haughey were checked, that gap was narrowed to 51.

Brid Smith
Brid Smith

The five-seat constituency has seen some fierce competition, with just one TD – Richard Bruton – elected so far. There are 20 candidates.

Fianna Fail’s Sean Haughey looks the most likely to claim the second seat.

Tallies tonight suggested Mr Broughan could take the third seat, while Sinn Féin’s Denise Mitchell could secure the fourth.

The results of the general election have been shocking and groundbreaking, so perhaps it was only fitting that counts in the last constituencies would end in high drama.

“It feels like a Beckett play – we’re on a loop,” said Mr Lyons.

In the race for the so-called “group of death” constituency, Mr Lyons has resigned himself to defeat.

But he’s still keeping his eye on proceedings, as his area joins other constituencies in contemplating a court battle.

“Definitely it’ll go on tomorrow and perhaps Wednesday, because there are a lot of candidates here who are outgoing TDs and this is their political careers at stake,” he added.

After three days of tense counts and recounts, keeping candidates and supporters fuelled and awake can be a challenge.

For Mr Lyons, that part is simple: “Fruit, bananas, apples and juice.”

“We’re disciplined in PBP Dublin Bay North,” he said.  “We’re very healthy.”

“Oh, and you need to have your nuts,” he added, as a bag of mix pecans and walnuts lay open on the table.

“It is a bit of an effort to keep yourself going when there’s not much happening for vast stretches of time. So we just chat.”

At Sean Haughey’s table, the menu was not quite as nutritious, as supporters grabbed bags of chips to keep energy levels up.

Paddy Kehoe had travelled all the way from Wexford to support the Fianna Fáil candidate, and felt Monday’s recount would have been resolved in a shorter time.

“Sean only needs 315 votes, and the quicker he gets them, the quicker that we’re out here,” he said hopefully.

But he told independent.ie that he was “grand” after three long days in the RDS, but added: “We’re suffering with our backs so we’re taking turns to sit down.”

With another full day almost gone and no further candidates elected, it’s been a tough day for supporters on the Northside constituency.

But Dublin South Central wasn’t faring much better, as the two remaining candidates – Fianna Fail’s Catherine Ardagh and AAA-PBP’s Brid Smith - battled it out for the final seat.

Ms Smith, who was 35 votes ahead of Ms Ardagh in the last count, saw the bright side to a third day in the RDS.

Although it was a “long old process”, she believed it was a “very educational one for everybody”.

“If anything good comes out of it, we’ll all know how PR [STV] works and how to vote properly in future,” she said with a grin.

Practising solicitor Ardagh was hoping to avoid the courts after a decision would be made on 160 disputed votes but a Circuit Court challenge was still in consideration.

“I have to see the figures,” she said.

“I’m not gunning to go to court but if it’s warranted, I’ll have to consider it”.

As the snack pile depleted as night fell, the drama and analysis were replaced by a common-sense approach from Councillor Paddy Bourke, who was supporting independent Tommy Broughan.

“We’d like it to be over, but we’d like to win,” he concluded.

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