Monday 18 December 2017

Kilkenny Piltown - First count

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

JUST a single vote separated long-time Fine Gael politician Pat Dunphy and Sinn Fein newcomer Melissa O'Neill at the first count in Kilkenny's Piltown district.

After almost 12-hours of counting ballot papers, poll-topper and current Kilkenny County Council chair Mr Dunphy, on 1222, edged slightly ahead of lone mother and women's rights campaigner Ms O'Neill. Yet, neither were elected at first count as they fell short of the quota of 1364.

Both look certain to take seats in the six-seater constituency, with Kilkenny certain to throw up more surprises with a recent redrawing of the boundaries plunging candidates into unfamiliar territory.

Ms O'Neill, who had been expected to top the poll according to the tallies, was a shock strong poller as the community campaigner had only been calling to doors for just three weeks.

Ms O'Neill (43), from Ferrybank, Co Kilkenny, confessed her shock after she surged well-ahead in Kilkenny's Piltown - District, surpassing well-known candidates including Fianna Fail's sitting councillor Eamon Aylward, a nephew of the outgoing MEP Liam, who took in 921 votes at first count. Transfers look set to be crucial for the Fianna Fáil party in this district.

"I only came into the campaign three weeks ago," said Ms O'Neill who has been working as a community support worker aiding women in Ferrybank for several years.

"I'm just amazed," said the lone parent, adding housing would be key issue for he on the council.

"The reaction on the doorsteps was 'we need change' - it was a cry for help from the people really."

As Labour face devastation country-wide, the party's Tomas Breathnach in the Piltown district looks set to take one of two seats for the party in Kilkenny.

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