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Kenny leads the way as FG make election history

Taoiseach-in-waiting Enda Kenny secured 17,472 first-preference votes -- a record in this General Election.

Mr Kenny said yesterday that Fine Gael had achieved an incredible result in Mayo by capturing four of the five seats on offer in the constituency.

"The trust that the people of my native county have placed in a formidable team here -- they are not going to be misplaced," Mr Kenny told the cheering crowds at the count centre in Castlebar.

It's a feat that has never before been achieved in any constituency in any General Election.

Mr Kenny pushed his party's share of the vote from 53.8 per cent in 2007, to around 65 per cent this time.

Mr Kenny himself was returned with more than a quota and a half, taking a phenomenal 31.5 per cent share of the vote and making him possibly the biggest vote-getter in the country.

The other successful Fine Gael candidates, Michael Ring (23.85 per cent), John O'Mahony (15.63 per cent) and Michelle Mulherin (15.63 per cent) put in a remarkable performance, out-polling Fianna Fail's out-going Minister for Labour Affairs Dara Calleary (15.36 per cent), in the battle for votes.

The record-breaking poll result, as well being a huge personal popular triumph for the Fine Gael leader, was also quite a coup for party strategists who brought off an election gamble that was the envy of their rivals.

Mr Calleary faced a long wait for confirmation of his seat and was relying on transfers from running-mate Lisa Chambers to make it back to the Dail.

Independent Michael Kilcoyne, was lagging well behind on 7.23 per cent, but was expected to pick up transfers.

It was a disappointing day for Labour's Jerry Cowley (6.52 per cent), who failed to make a serious impact at the polls this time out.

Neither of the Sinn Fein candidates, Rose Conway Walsh (4.78 per cent) nor Therese Ruane (3.86 per cent), mounted a serious challenge to the other election candidates.

Brian McDonald

Sunday Independent