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Offaly voters elect FF, FG and SF TDs

Sunday, 28th February, 2016 12:09pm

Offaly North Tipperary has returned its two sitting TDs and gained a third in Sinn Fein's Carol Nolan.

The constituency threw up a few election surprises but Fianna Fail's dominance was not among them. Despite a 27% vote for Independents and others it was the three main parties, FG, FF and SF who secured seats. 

As widely anticipated, Barry Cowen topped the poll in the first count taking a seat with a surplus of over 1,300 votes. Marcella Corcoran Kennedy's 6,838 first preferences enabled her to take a lead on her rivals and hold on to second place for the remainder of the count.

Mr Cowen's surplus transfers helped the party's second candidate, Eddie Fitzpatrick, squarely into contention for the final seat with 4,297, behind John Leahy(Ren) on 4,759, Carol Nolan(SF) on 4,882 and Joe Hannigan(Ind) on 5,226.

At the end of count two the Green Party's Christopher Fettes on 532, Independents Kate Bopp on 554, Teresa Ryan Feehan on 616 and Ken Smollen(IDP) on 999 were all eliminated. 

The third count marked the end of the line for Independent Alliance candidate, North Offaly's John Foley who was eliminated despite securing 4,200 first preference votes. 

His departure would end the prospects for Tipperary candidate Joe Hannigan and boost Eddie Fitzpatrick's chances for a final seat.   

Although Mr Hannigan bowed out in the fourth count, his performance in the election was remarkable, particularly in light of the fact that it was his first run for a dail seat. His first preferences put him in third place out of the eleven candidates but he couldn't maintain the position in the Offaly centred race. 

John Leahy was eliminated in the fifth count. He said he wasn't sure whether his move to Renua had helped or harmed his prospects but he was grateful to the party for giving him a national platform to highlight rural issues.

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy retained the number two spot throughout the count. The distribution of John Leahy's votes put her over the quota of 11,009 by 304 on the sixth count. 

That left Eddie Fitzpatrick and Carol Nolan in the fight for the remaining seat. The Fianna Fail candidate was beaten by 170 votes by Sinn Fein's candidate in her first dail bid on the last count. She was elected without reaching the quota when Mr Fitzpatrick was eliminated. 

Carol Nolan's success in the election was probably the biggest surprise of the day. The school teacher and former principal managed to see off competition from Renua Ireland, the Independent Alliance and Fianna Fail to take the third seat in what was her first general election. 

It had been widely believed that Sinn Fein's chances of the third seat had been irreparably damaged when the Tullamore councillor Brendan Killeavy decided not to run in the election. He had been seen as the party's most likely prospect in Offaly, where he had secured the most first preference votes in the 2014 local elections.  

As the count closed all three elected TDs took to the stage to assure the people of Offaly, and in particular the people of North Tipperary, that their interests would be represented by the newly elected TDs.  

In the end voters in Offaly North Tipperary voted Fianna Fail at 36%, Independents and others at 27%, Fine Gael 15.5%, Sinn Fein 11 % and Renua 10.5%