Tuesday 23 January 2018

Battle for final seats drags on through night

John Fallon

The battle to fill the remaining seats in the 31st Dail dragged on throughout the night with a second full recount taking place in Galway West.

It is the longest running count ever in Galway and the recount, called after just 17 votes separated the candidates for the fifth and final seat, continued at snail's pace as representatives of the two candidates scrutinised every vote.

The initial count ended at 6am on Tuesday when Fine Gael newcomer Sean Kyne pipped Independent Catherine Connolly in dramatic fashion.

Ms Connolly, a former Labour Party member and director of elections for Michael D Higgins, held a 58-vote advantage going into the final count when a surplus from FG's Brian Walsh was being distributed.

Mr Walsh became the third to win a seat in Galway West following the election of Fianna Fail's Eamon O Cuiv and Labour's Derek Nolan on Sunday. The outcome hinged on the distribution of Mr Walsh's 116 surplus with john Grealish picking up 17 votes for a total of 9,833, and was elected without reaching the new quota of 10,108.

Ms Connolly received 12 votes for a total of 9,100, but Mr Kyne, a county councillor from Moycullen, picked up 87 for a total of 9,117.

It had been flagged from early in the count that a recount was likely regardless of which of them won and Mr Kyne's celebrations were duly cut short as Ms Connolly requested, and was granted, a full recount.

Central to her contention is that many of her votes were 'taken out' during an initial recount that was granted on the request of Fine Gael candidate Fidelma Healy-Eames.

"It appeared to emerge during that recount that my votes were getting extra attention as a result of pressure from Fine Gael. We need to establish that the votes of other candidates came under the same scrutiny," said Ms Connolly.


She said the fact that the vote for Sinn Fein's Trevor O Clochartaigh did not alter during the recount also raised some issues.

Mr Kyne, an unsuccessful candidate in 2007 who was elected to Galway County Council for the first time two years ago, said he was hopeful of maintaining his advantage.

"We remain hopeful that the result will stand but we always knew it would be close," he said.

A large crowd attended last night's recount at the Leisureland complex in Salthill and given the pace of proceedings it was inevitable that the sun would rise before confirmation of the 166th seat being filled in the Dail would materialise.

Irish Independent

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