Dublin South-West: Katherine Zappone elected as constituency draws to a close
Katherine Zappone has taken the final seat in Dublin South West following two days of rechecks and recounts at the request of Fine Gael.
Late tonight no official announcement had taken place but the returning officer informed candidates at a meeting that he was satisfied that the recounts had not changed the initial result.
The former Senator said that she was thrilled to be an Independent female TD entering the 32nd Dail for her constituency.
“As I said at the beginning I really respect the democratic process…I can imagine that Anne-Marie Dermody is feeling the loss and I offer her my support.
“Politics is a tough game, even though I haven’t been in it very long.”
The news that the long stalemate was over was met with applause and cheers for supporters of the well-known newly elected TD.
Ms Zappone rose to prominence during the marriage referendum.
Solicitor Anne-Marie Dermody lost out on the 16th count by some 152 votes following a large transfer of votes to Ms Zappone.
After rechecks the gap narrowed to some 120 votes but it was largely considered to big a gap to close.
Until the announcement was made Ms Dermody was not commenting on her next move.
All votes were examined and assessed during the third day of the count today in City West, under the watchful eye of both Fine Gael and Zappone’s team.
Flagged votes were then examined and the returning officer gave his assessment that when all discrepancies were taken into account there was no material difference to the result.
Both sides drew on some impressive legal experts during the course of proceedings.
Former Tanaiste and electoral law expert Michael McDowell was on hand to support Katherine Zappone.
Meanwhile, Blackrock councillor and barrister Barry Ward arrived late on Sunday evening to offer his legal opinion on the count.
Kevin O’Higgins, a legal advisor for the party, attended the re-checks of the 15th and 16th count and arrived tonight also.
Star gardener Diarmuid Gavin also turned up at the centre to support Ms Dermody – with whom she once shared a directorship of the company Diarmuid Gavin Designs Limited
A full recount was expected to begin on Monday morning but the ballot papers were instead examined for every candidate as sorted, with both sides assured that every single vote was checked.
The transfer of more than 2,000 votes from candidate Peter Fitzpatrick to Ms Zappone at the eleventh hour saw her surge ahead of Ms Dermody to take the seat.