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Galway West: Niece of shot IRA member Farrell elected but FG's chief whip Kyne takes a flogging

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Historic: Mairead Farrell of Sinn Féin celebrates with her supporters at the Galway Lawn Tennis Club, Salthill. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

Historic: Mairead Farrell of Sinn Féin celebrates with her supporters at the Galway Lawn Tennis Club, Salthill. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

Historic: Mairead Farrell of Sinn Féin celebrates with her supporters at the Galway Lawn Tennis Club, Salthill. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

On March 6, 1988, IRA member Mairéad Farrell was shot dead by British SAS troops in Gibraltar.

And 32 years later, her niece and namesake was celebrating a huge Galway West victory, becoming the first Sinn Féin candidate in almost a century to be elected there.

"When that's your life, you don't really notice," said Ms Farrell.

"In your life lots of factors influence you that you don't realise when it is part of your family.

"I am sure her death inspired me but it's not a defining factor in my head."

In what is generally a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael hotbed, Galway West reflected voting patterns throughout the 2020 General Election.

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FF’s Éamon Ó Cuív celebrates. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

FF’s Éamon Ó Cuív celebrates. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

Much of the country swung left towards Sinn Féin, and so did the people in Ms Farrell's constituency.

Fine Gael were left in tatters as outgoing TDs Hildegarde Naughton and Seán Kyne were left to contest the remaining seat after Catherine Connolly (Ind) took fourth.

Ms Farrell was elected on the eighth count with 10,340 votes after Éamon Ó Cuív (FF) and Noel Grealish (IND) took the top two seats respectively.

Mr Grealish came under fire and polled badly recently following comments he made about immigrants and asylum seekers, but that didn't seem to be a factor this time.

"I am absolutely delighted to be re-elected to the Dáil," said Mr Grealish.

"I didn't sleep on Friday night. I was lying in bed thinking about how many people would actually get up and vote for me."

It was a gruelling affair for the others waiting to fill a seat, but Independent candidate Ms Connolly wrapped hers up by the 12th count (12,486). She returns as the fourth in line.

Outgoing government chief whip Mr Kyne knew he was facing an uphill struggle once the first tallies came in on Sunday morning.

And so it proved - his Fine Gael running-mate Ms Naughton took the coveted final seat by 1,945 votes on the 13th and final count.

"It was a difficult election," said Ms Naughton.

"I am thinking about a lot of my colleagues across the country who lost their seats and in particular Seán Kyne.

"He has worked very hard in Galway West-South Mayo. We worked very well together.

"The emotion I have is relief, but disappointment for Seán also."

Irish Independent