Wednesday 21 August 2019

'One vote, every vote counts' - Cork election candidate pips rival by skin of her teeth

One vote separate the two following two recounts in the Bantry LEA

Holly (second from left) celebrates with Soc Dem leader Roisin Shortall. Pic: Roisin Shortall Twitter
Holly (second from left) celebrates with Soc Dem leader Roisin Shortall. Pic: Roisin Shortall Twitter

Ryan Nugent and Callum Lavery

A West Cork candidate has been elected by the skin of her teeth - taking the final seat in her constituency by a single vote after two recounts.

Social Democrat Holly McKeever Cairns (29) pipped Independent candidate Finbar Harrington by a vote after two recounts in the Bantry local electoral area.

"One vote, every vote counts. You couldn't write it," Ms McKeever Cairns told

Following the first count on Monday night it was announced that Mr Harrington had won the seat by a single vote - but Ms McKeever Cairns called for a recount.

That evening a closed door meeting between the candidates and the Returning Officer Maurice Manning found a number of invalid votes had been included in the first count.

Five invalid ballots had been included in the count.

The quota was reduced by one to 2,308 votes. Mr Harrington's total of first preference votes fell by one while Ms McKeever Cairn's total rose by two. By the sixth count both candidates were running neck and neck for the final seat.

After the first recount the tables had turned and Ms McKeever Cairns had won by a single vote.

Mr Harrington then sought a recount which was completed just before 9pm tonight.

Ms McKeever Cairns described the final moments before she pipped her rival as "very tense" particularly when the last thing to do was to scrutinise the votes.

"I do feel tired because there were so many counts," she said.

"It's difficult to believe we're not going into another count, it's like a routine.

"Finbar won the first by one vote and I won the third by one vote. If it had come to a draw I would've won because I had more first preferences."

Asked what she will do following the win, she said "we're gonna celebrate a lot, we're delighted".

"I was the 19th [Soc Dem] councillor to be elected. 10 women and nine men so I just tipped the gender balance," she added.

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