Wednesday 25 April 2018

Limerick City: Willie O'Dea (FF) wins big as Ministers Jan O'Sullivan and Michael Noonan limp over finishing line

Fianna Fail's Willie O’Dea. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail's Willie O’Dea. Photo: Tom Burke
Fine Gael's Michael Noonan. Photo: Frank McGrath
Labour's Jan O’Sullivan

Kathryn Hayes

The 'grand stand' finish in the Limerick city where Minsters Jan O'Sullivan and Michael Noonan were elected without reaching the quota encapsulated the mood of the electorate nationwide and mirrored voting patterns around the country.

The election of Sinn Fein's first time candidate Maurice Quinlivan signalled major danger signs for Labour's Jan O'Sullivan and O'Donnell, who were always expected to face off for the final seat.

Mr Quinlivan secured the second seat ahead of Minister for Finance Michael Noonan (FG) who had to wait until the final count before he was elected.

On top of the heap though was the traditional poll topper Willie O'Dea (FF) who secured almost 13,000 first preference.

There was a heroes welcome at the count centre for AAA Cian Prendiville who was eliminated in the fourth count but still secured over 4,500 first preference votes.

Prendiville gained the majority of O'Dea's surplus with Sinn Fein's Quinlivan also benefiting significantly securing 633 of the Fianna Fáil Deputy's transfers, which helped him take the second seat.

This was despite wide spread reports that O'Dea's campaigners  had been instructed to encourage voters to give Jan O'Sullivan their number two vote in an effort to keep Sinn Fein out.

The big casualty in Limerick city was outgoing Fine Gael TD and Public Accounts Committee member Kieran O'Donnell, who despite looking safe until the second last count, failed to benefit from transfers.

Indeed Labour Minister Jan O'Sullivan was so resigned to defeat before the transfer of votes from the eliminated Social Democrat candidate Sarah Jane Hennelly she quipped: "The 'fat lady' hasn't sung yet, but she is certainly tuning up!"

In a dramatic twist however it was the transfer of Sarah Jane Hennelly votes which brought Labour's Jan O'Sullivan back into the race.

It was ultimately the the elimination of AAA candidate Cian Prendiville and the transfer of his votes that pushed O"Sullivan over the line.

After a long wait Michael Noonan (72) was finally elected at 1am alongside Jan O'Sullivan.

Speaking after his election Minister Michael Noonan,  whose first preference vote dropped from 13,291 in 2011 to 7,294 this time out he said the overall result for Fine Gael was a "reversal of what happened" five years ago.

"I think it was a reversal of what happened in 2011 party allegiances are reverting back to what was the norm and the Fianna Fáil vote came back to Fianna Fáil; we got a lot of it the last time."

"This is my fourteenth time being re-elected at counts in Limerick: eleven general elections and three local council elections. Sometimes I got very big votes and other times I didn't This was a day when I got within 40 votes of the quota with over 9,000 votes."

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