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Couple who ran against each other both elected as FG ousted

Cork South West

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Holly Cairns and Christopher O’Sullivan. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Holly Cairns and Christopher O’Sullivan. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Holly Cairns and Christopher O’Sullivan. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

The couple who ran for different parties in Cork South West both managed to get elected as Fine Gael lost out for the first time in 60 years.

As the celebrations began yesterday in a cold and stormy Clonakilty, west Cork's first Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns and her boyfriend Christopher O'Sullivan, of Fianna Fáil, were deemed elected.

Early in the count, confidence had been high among supporters of Senator Tim Lombard, with one party supporter insisting: "West Cork will always have a Fine Gael TD."

And for a time this mantra seemed to be true, with Mr Lombard polling well as the count got under way.

However, early tallies seemed to predict a new breeze blowing across west Cork, with Ms Cairns and Sinn Féin's Paul Hayes getting strong first preferences and coming in fourth and fifth after the first count was delivered.

Aontú's Mairead Ruane, Kevin O'Connor (Solidarity-People Before Profit) and Independent candidate Sean O'Leary were all eliminated after the first count.

Sitting TD Michael Collins (Independent) topped the poll, as had been expected, and he was elected on the first count.

The second-term TD warned any party that may be looking for his support to form a government that it would depend on what it would do for the people of west Cork.

As the second count concluded, Ms Cairns and Mr Hayes continued to gain ground.

It finally culminated in a race for the final two seats between Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Social Democrats and Fine Gael.

When Mr Hayes was ultimately eliminated, with more than 4,000 votes to be distributed, Ms Cairns made gains.

And it soon became clear that west Cork would indeed be without a Fine Gael TD for the first time since the 1950s.

Irish Independent