Farmer sentenced to two years' jail a surprise winner
A FARMER who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2002 for conspiring to steal a Department of Agriculture cheque worth over €20,000 pulled off one of the surprise victories of the election after he topped his local poll.
Michael Clarke, of Beltra, polled 1,408 first preferences in the Dromore area of Co Sligo, getting elected on the first count.
Mr Clarke (47), a former Fianna Fail candidate, said after his election that he had made mistakes in the past "and I acknowledge that", but added that the "real jury of my peers" had now spoken.
One of the surprise casualties was long-time Fine Gael councillor Paul Conmy who had represented the area for 30 years.
Fianna Fail lost three seats on Sligo County Council with Fine Gael picking up two while the Independents also gained one.
Independent councillor Margaret Gormley polled 2,162 first preferences in Tubbercurry, almost twice the quota.
Fine Gael's Tony McLoughlin also polled over 2,000 first preferences in the Strandhill area while his party colleague Joe Leonard topped the poll in Drumcliff with over 1,500 votes.