Surprise as FG bucks trend in election re-run
FINE Gael filled half of the seats in the Local Area Election for the Ballybay-Clones District of Monaghan County Council.
The outcome in the weekend re-run of the local election for the area surprised even its own party supporters by taking three of the six seats.
However, a Fianna Fail councillor topped the poll.
Polling took place on Saturday and the count was completed yesterday at the courthouse in Clones.
One of the newly elected Fine Gael contenders was Eugene Bannigan (21), son of the late Owen Bannigan, a candidate whose death on polling day last month led to the re-scheduling of the election.
Mr Bannigan (above) was elected on the sixth count.
Fianna Fail pundits were critical last night of what they termed "poor management of votes" in the area.
Sinn Fein's success in taking two seats was described by the party's spokesman on health Caoimhghin O Caolain as "a milestone for the party in Irish local government".
Cavan/Monaghan Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan said the result had "clearly bucked the trend" aired by anti-coalition pundits by highlighting the level of support for the party in the border constituency.
The three candidates elected on the first count were Seamus Coyle, FF, with 1,449 first preferences; Ciara McPhillips, FG, with 1,348; and Cathy Bennett, SF, with 1,295.
After Mr Bannigan's election on the sixth count (1,153 first preferences), it was not until the seventh, and final, count that the last two seats were filled by Hugh McElvaney, FG, (1,075), and Pat Treanor, SF, (1,041).