Thursday 26 April 2018

Offaly: Carol Nolan (SF) surprise winner as Fine Gael's Marcella Corcoran Kennedy retains seat

Fine Gael's Marcella Corcoran Kennedy
Fine Gael's Marcella Corcoran Kennedy
Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen
Barry Cowen celebrates at the Offaly count, held in Banagher

Gearoid Keegan

The new constituency of Offaly elected a new TD when Sinn Fein's Carol Nolan won a seat in the Dail in her first general election.

After pipping Fianna Fail's Eddie Fitzpatrick for the last seat by just 170 votes, Nolan commented: “We had firm belief that we would take the third seat and we said that from the outset.”

“Right from the beginning of our campaign we knew we could do it.”

After receiving just 11 per cent of the first preference vote in a constituency where Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen topped the poll and was elected on the first count, Nolan was boosted by strong transfers from Independents and Renua Ireland candidate John Leahy.

The 36-year-old mother of two from Cadamstown was the second woman returned in Offaly following the re-election of Fine Gael's Marcella Corcoran Kennedy.

A former Gaelscoil principal in Co Laois, Nolan attributed her success to very hard work.

“I'm a very focused person, I've a strong work ethic. I'm ambitious and I had a very strong campaign team behind me,” said Nolan.

Nolan's election foiled Fianna Fail's bid to take two seats in the three-seater created following the break-up of the five-seat Laois-Offaly constituency.

Speaking earlier after his landslide victory, Barry Cowen would not entertain questions about a coalition deal with Fine Gael saying the two parties were not compatible.

The Fianna Fail environment spokesman said the verdict of the people meant that the future of Irish Water was now questionable.

“If you look at the parties who received the vast majority of the votes, none of them are in favour of the way that whole process has been handled or the money that was spent on it and what we've been left with.”

Meanwhile, Renua Ireland co-founder Leahy did not rule out running for the Dail again even though this was the second successive election where he had lost out.

The councillor, an Independent candidate in 2011, stood by his decision to campaign under the Renua banner and insisted it had allowed him highlight important rural issues.

The Offaly constituency included part of north Tipperary and local candidate Joe Hannigan, Independent, was in third place on the first count after getting the lion's share of the votes in his own county.

Hannigan did not attract enough votes to remain in contention and was eliminated on the fifth count.

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