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Wexford: Murphy, Mythen both enjoy a Model comeback

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Came out fighting: Verona Murphy bounced back from her by-election defeat as a Fine Gael candidate to win a seat in Wexford as an Independent. Photo: Mary Browne

Came out fighting: Verona Murphy bounced back from her by-election defeat as a Fine Gael candidate to win a seat in Wexford as an Independent. Photo: Mary Browne

Came out fighting: Verona Murphy bounced back from her by-election defeat as a Fine Gael candidate to win a seat in Wexford as an Independent. Photo: Mary Browne

Wexford reflected the national split between the three main parties, with each picking up one of the available seats in this constituency.

But Independent TD Verona Murphy was one of the big winners of the day.

Having been infamously de-selected by Fine Gael following a controversial by-election campaign at the end of last year, the Irish Road Haulage Association president outperformed both of her former party colleagues and junior ministers, Michael D'Arcy and Paul Kehoe, to take the third seat on the final count.

Another major talking point was the comeback by Sinn Féin's Johnny Mythen, who went from losing his county council seat last summer to topping the poll with a remarkable 18,717 votes. That saw him elected on the first count to become Sinn Féin's first TD in the Model County in 99 years, with one of the highest ever votes recorded in the constituency.

While the outlook wasn't good nationally for the Labour Party, the stronghold of Wexford town held firm for party leader Brendan Howlin.

However, he did have to wait a while before being elected to the second seat on count eight.

Reflecting on the hits being taken by the party nationally, he said that questions over his leadership were a matter for another day.

Also elected, on the 11th and final count, was Fianna Fáil's James Browne, who initially, alongside Mr Howlin, had been billed as a potential poll topper.

A combination of the remarkable performance of fellow Enniscorthy man Mr Mythen and a poorly thought-out Fianna Fáil strategy of running four candidates for five seats resulted in Mr Browne having to pace the floors until the bitter end.

Having survived a dog fight with Mr Mythen in 2016 to keep his seat, Mr Kehoe pulled off another great escape as transfers from his party colleague Mr D'Arcy, who was eliminated on count 10, were enough to see him edge out Fianna Fáil's Malcolm Byrne.

Mr Byrne finds himself as holder of an unfortunate record of one of the shortest sitting TDs in the history of the State, having only taken office following his by-election success in November.

With Mr D'Arcy and Mr Byrne both losing their seats, it leaves somewhat of a vacuum in north Wexford.

Meanwhile, representation was restored to the south of the county in the form of Ms Murphy.

Mr Howlin held Wexford town and three of the five TDs will be flying the flag for Enniscorthy.

Irish Independent