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Saturday 17 March 2018

Mingsters' delight as toking candidate hits dizzy high

Mingsters were on the march following yesterday's count at the Hyde Centre in Roscommon. The newly coined term describes a supporter of Independent candidate Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, the real story of this election in Roscommon-South Leitrim.

Fine Gael's Denis Naughten topped the poll with 9,320 votes, followed by running mate Frank Feighan from Boyle on 8,983, but the talk was dominated by the fact that Independent candidate Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, from Castlerea, would be representing the constituency.

The Mingsters are a varied group, combining turf cutters, cannabis legalisation campaigners and a growing anti-establishment cohort. This is Ming's third time before the electorate in a general election, and his vote has grown from 548 on his first outing, in Galway West, to over 8,925.

In many ways, the result in Roscommon-South Leitrim mirrored that across the country, with Fine Gael securing 39 per cent of the vote, Fianna Fail 15 per cent and Independents 27 per cent.

Both Labour and the Green Party will be disappointed with their showing. Ballaghadereen-based Labour candidate John Kelly garnered 9 per cent of the vote and Green Party candidate Garreth McDaid, son of former Fianna Fail minister Jim McDaid, got 220 votes.

Sinn Fein's Martin Kenny polled a respectable 10 per cent (4,637 votes), while there was disappointment for the Roscommon Hospital Action Committee -- John McDermott received 3,770 votes.

The result represents a major collapse in the Fianna Fail vote, down from 17,000 in 2007 to just 7,100 in 2011, with Ming getting 1,800 more votes than the combined total of Fianna Fail candidates Ivan Connaughton, from Athleague, on 4,070 votes, and Leitrim's Gerry Kilrane on 3,033 votes.

Another indicator of the Fianna Fail collapse was the vote from Cootehall NS -- once a Fianna Fail hub and home to the Doherty family -- where Luke 'Ming' Flanagan got 89 votes, with the combined Fianna Fail vote being 41.

Pauline Scott

Sunday Independent

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