Kilcoyne is first councillor elected - but Kenny's brother in waiting game
IT was a “backlash” against the Government which claimed some of its first casualties in the Taoiseach’s hometown.
As the first count was completed, the Taoiseach’s brother Cllr Henry Kenny was desperately fighting to stay in the race.
With 1,078 he sat in ninth position in the eight-seater constituency. Just ahead of him was his party colleague Eugene Lavin who after the first count was on course to take the final seat.
While the party was confident that Kenny’s position would rise when poll topper Michael Kilcoyne’s significant surplus votes were divvied up, it wasn’t looking good for the party.
As they awaited news on Cllr Kenny’s plight, the party had already sustained a major blow with Eugene McCormack, who is closely aligned with the Taoiseach, losing his seat on the first count.
Tensions were also high among Eugene Lavin’s team. The Fine Gael councillor had suffered a heart attack just three weeks ago while in the middle of canvassing. But after a week’s rest, the 55-year-old was back on the election trail. But despite his hard work insiders conceeded that he faced a "tough ask" to retain his seat.
Independent Candidate Michael Kilcoyne celebrates his election on the First count in Castlebar, Co Mayo
Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne who topped the poll said the vote was a backlash against the current Fine Gael government.
“People were told at the last General Election that having a Taoiseach from Mayo would work miracles better than Knock, but as a county we’ve been crucified. There is a backlash against Fine Gael locally and I wouldn’t be confident that they will retain even three seats,” he said.
After he shattered the quota with one of the highest votes ever in the area, followers began their celebrations before the first count had even been officially announced.
Fianna Fail were looking likely to pick up three seats with Therese Ruane expected to take a seat for Sinn Fein
Meanwhile one lucky Kiltimagh voter told of her delight after she was reunited with a family heirloom. Noreen Brennan from Kiltimagh lost a Claddagh ring, gifted to her by her late mother, when she voted on Friday.
“I was shoving in the paper when the ring got caught. Next thing I knew it was in the ballot box,” she said.
After marking the box they thought the ring was in, eagle-eyed staff kept an eye out and discovered the ring early yesterday morning.
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The mum-of-five raised the first cheer of the day when she was reunited with the ring at the Castlebar count centre in the afternoon.
“The ring was left to me by my late mother, Annie. I would have been devastated to lose it permanently. But I had every confidence I would get it back safely,” she added.
The one clear winner on the day in Mayo was the county council who saw their coffers boosted significantly when traffic wardens ticketed more than 50 cars parked outside the TF Royal where the count was taking place. At €40 a pop it proved a nice little windfall for the council.