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Cavan/ Monaghan: Fine Gael makes history along the border

FINE Gael made history by winning three out of five seats seats in the Cavan-Monaghan border constituency. In doing so it broke further new ground by electing to the Dail the first female member of the party from the constituency -- credit union branch manager and Monaghan County Council member Heather Humphreys.

Another Co Monaghan family tradition in politics was revisited after a half century when Ballybay lawyer Sean Conlan claimed a seat to follow in the footsteps of his late father.

Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain topped the poll, surpassing former minister Brendan Smith.

But the Fine Gael machine succeeded in a very effective spread of votes to secure the seats at the expense of Fianna Fail.

The final count was not concluded until 4.25am yesterday.

There was a brief hold-up as a re-scrutiny of ballot papers was ordered by Returning Officer Joe Smith, when it was discovered that papers from one polling station were without an official seal and not 'franked'.


Mr O Caolain declared he was requesting an investigation to establish how the ballot papers were issued.

Fianna Fail outgoing deputy, teacher Margaret Conlon, conceded defeat in the early stages of the count.

Mr Smith said that despite the loss of two seats, one of which was held by former Ceann Comhairle Dr Rory O'Hanlon -- who had not sought re-election -- he was delighted to be returned on what he claimed was one of the strongest showings by Fianna Fail in the country.

"To get 9,500 first preferences in the constituency was a very strong vote in the present difficult economic circumstances and the times we are in," he said.

Mr O Caolain said the party increased its overall first preference vote by 5,500 in Cavan-Monaghan and came very close to having a second candidate, Kathryn Reilly from Cavan, elected.

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Labour had a much improved performance in the constituency. But contender Liam Hogan was unable to muster sufficient transfers to make any advance beyond the 5.6pc showing.

Independents and a Green Party candidate were also among the early eliminations.