Friday 24 March 2017

Biggest cheer is reserved for losers in recount

Kevin Keane

FINE Gael took a historic three seats in the Wicklow election count, but the loudest cheer of a tense final night was reserved for the poll's losers.

Just about everyone in the Shoreline centre in Greystones cheered Sinn Fein's John Brady when he withdrew his request for a full recount at 3.15am yesterday morning. Even battle-hardened election veterans had little stomach for a fourth day of counting.

Mr Brady missed out on the last seat by 112 votes to the independent candidate Stephen Donnelly but withdrew his request after returning officer Patricia Casey told him only rounds 14 to 19 could be re-checked.

The first 13 had already been revisited at the request of Fianna Fail's Dick Roche. Mr Roche lost his seat regardless, an occasion that elicited the second loudest cheer of the night. The former junior minister was eliminated ahead of his running mate Pat Fitzgerald, but there was no unity of purpose within the party with Mr Fitzgerald complaining that FF headquarters was guilty of disgusting behaviour with its recheck request, which sought to have Mr Roche leapfrog him to avoid elimination.

"If that's the way Fianna Fail are going to carry on with their own people, no wonder the people voted against them," Mr Fitzgerald remarked.

Outgoing Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle topped the poll and was elected on the 16th count. His running mate Billy Timmins was elected at the next count, keeping the seat he has held since 1997, while the third Fine Gael candidate, 24-year-old Simon Harris, took the third seat without reaching the quota, becoming the youngest member of Dail Eireann.

Labour's Anne Ferris was elected on the same count, winning the seat vacated by the retiring Liz McManus.

Irish Independent

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