Saturday 24 February 2018

Fine Gael buck national trends with expected Longford majority

Fine Gael bucked national trends in Longford by polling strongly across the county with the party expected to take a total of eight seats.

It took 14 hours before the first count came in with returning officer Nora O’Farrell and candidates locked in debate over “doubtful” ballots for much of Saturday afternoon.

The first result from Longford town confirmed tallymen’s predictions that John Browne (FG) would top the poll. He was 86 votes shy of a quota at 727 votes followed by Fianna Fáil’s Seamus Butler on 699 votes. Butler was assured of a return to the council five years after he narrowly lost his seat. Poll topper last time around Peggy Nolan (FG) is expected to take the third seat.

The big story of the count so far has been the performance of independent candidate Gerry Warnock who came in fourth on the first count and seems assured of winning a seat. It will come at the expense of Longford town mayor Paul Connell (Ind) whose vote fell dramatically.

Fellow independent Mae Sexton, a former Progressive Democrat TD who ran for Labour at the last general election, was fighting for her political survival after coming in seventh. The final two seats are expected to come down to the wire with Sexton facing off against Fianna Fáil candidates Michael Connellan and Padraig Loughrey.

Tallymen were predicting a huge vote for Fine Gael in the north of the county with a very real possibility that the party will take four of the six seats available. Across Longford the party is believed to be running at 42 per cent, just one per cent off their 2009 performance.

Speaking following the early tallies, FG deputy James Bannon said that the party had turned out a very good vote in the county but the electorate had sent a message to government in the nationwide results.

“They have to take note of what the electorate says. I know that we have been through very, very difficult times. We inherited a dreadful situation and, hopefully, now that the heavy lifting is over it will improve from now on and into the next general election,” he said.


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