Shock as Adams emerges triumphant on first count
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams more than doubled his party's vote to 21.98 per cent of first preferences.
"This is a victory for the Republican people of Louth" he said after his poll-topping performance in the General Election yesterday.
And he remarked that his victory came close to the 30th anniversary of Bobby Sands starting his hunger strike.
Political pundits in Louth attribute his triumphant polling to the party gaining voters lost by Fianna Fail.
Even outgoing Louth deputy Arthur Morgan (SF) admitted he was shocked by how well Mr Adams polled.
"I was a bit surprised but in the last 10 days of campaigning there has been a palpable buzz. I felt people were going out of their way to shake his hand," he said.
It all translated into Sinn Fein having 1,208 first-preference votes more than the quota and 1,092 votes more than Fine Gael's Fergus O'Dowd. But both exceeded the quota and were elected on the first count.
The other winner of the night was the Labour Party, which more than tripled its vote compared to its performance in 2007. Its two candidates, Gerald Nash and Mary Moran, ensured its first preferences jumped from five per cent to 18.8 per cent.
Mr Nash, who was expected to take the third seat in Louth, said Labour had learnt from its success in the local election in Louth in 2009 and has been effectively running a General Election campaign since the middle of last year.
"I think there is a hunger for change and a hunger for generational change," he said.
Fianna Fail's vote fell from 42.14 per cent in 2007 to just 15.4 per cent, something its director of elections in Louth, Pearse Hanrahan, said was partly due to "the damage that was done with the economy. The Government are carrying the can for an awful lot outside their control but that is what we have to fight".
As the dust settled last night, there were whispers that Dundalk would once again be known as Little Belfast.