Tuesday 18 June 2019

A mixture of the shocking and the predictable across the county

Local elections 2019

The local election ballot papers leave County Buildings after initial sorting
The local election ballot papers leave County Buildings after initial sorting

Pádraig Byrne

The agony and the ecstasy were present in equal measure at St Joseph's Community Centre as the cheering of elected candidates rang out across the hall on Sunday. With six LEAs and 67 candidates there was always going to be the potential for a couple of shocks and that certainly was the case over the course of two dramatic days.

Sinn Féin's fortunes around the county were a big talking point over the weekend as they lost three sitting councillors. Fionntán Ó'Súilleabháin made it over the line in Gorey LEA to retain his seat, as did Tom Forde in Wexford. Mick Roche hung in until the last count in Rosslare, but ultimately lost out to Aontú candidate Jim Codd. Marie Doyle didn't gain much momentum in New Ross before being eliminated, while first time candidate Colette Nolan also missed out in Kilmuckridge LEA.

Perhaps the biggest shock for Sinn Féin, however, was the failure of general election candidate Johnny Mythen to retain his seat in Enniscorthy. However, he wasn't the only high profile candidate to miss out there. Current County Council Chairman Keith Doyle, who has been involved in local politics for 25 years, also lost his seat, as did Fine Gael councillor of ten years Paddy Kavanagh. Few could have predicted that the trio of experienced politicians, with a combined experience of over 45 years, would all miss out.

In fact, in Enniscorthy, it was only Kathleen Codd Nolan (FG), John O'Rourke (IND) and Barbara Anne Murphy (FF) who retained their seats on a new look council that will feature cousin of TD James Browne, Aidan Browne (FF), Cathal Byrne (FG) and Jackser Owens (IND) who made a triumphant return to local politics having served on Enniscorthy Town Council.

There was a predictable outcome in Kilmuckridge with all four sitting councillors - Pip Breen (FF), Mary Farrell (IND), Willie Kavanagh (FF) and Oliver Walsh (FG) - all retaining their seats to fill the LEA.

Also on the predictable end of the scale, Euro hopeful Malcolm Byrne topped the poll in Gorey before turning his attentions to the European count. It was a clean sweep for Fianna Fáil in Gorey, all three candidates making it over the line as Donal Kenny and Joe Sullivan followed Malcolm in with Fine Gael duo of Anthony Donohoe and Diarmuid Devereux also performing very well to take seats. Sinn Féin's Fionntán Ó'Súilleabháin was sweating it towards the end, but ultimately managed to retain his seat on the final count.

The big shock for Gorey was Labour stalwart of 15 years Robbie Ireton losing his seat and he cut a dejected figure as he crashed out of the running relatively early on.

The Rosslare LEA encapsulated the mixture of the shocking and predictable. Having topped the poll the last time out, Cllr Ger Carthy saw an incredible turnout, comfortably topping the poll with over 20% of the first preference votes to make it on count one. He was followed on count two by Frank Staples (FG) who also performed very well. Fianna Fáil general election candidate Lisa McDonald faced a bit of an anxious wait before being elected on count 7 and things took a turn when Fianna Fáil candidate Michael Wallace called for a recount with a minimal amount of votes separating him and Sinn Féin's Mick Roche, who was battling Aontú's Jim Codd. The call was eventually retracted and the new party on the block claimed the last seat as the Rosslare public gave Codd the nod. Wallace, however, can be described as being among the unluckiest candidates, having done very well on first preference votes.

Wexford reaffirmed it's status as a Labour stronghold with George Lawlor topping the poll with over 20% of the vote. In actual fact, it was Cllr Lawlor's strongest performance since he was first elected in 2004. He was later joined by Labour colleague Maura Bell, but former councillor Joe Ryan once again missed out on taking the last seat to complete a clean sweep for the party in the Wexford LEA.

Joining Cllr Lawlor being elected on count one was Cllr John Hegarty (FG), who was in uncharted waters after transferring from the Gorey district to Wexford LEA. Independent candidate and former Social Democrat candidate in the last general election, Leonard Kelly surprised even himself when he took the third seat in Wexford before former All-Ireland winner Garry Laffan (FF), veteran Davy Hynes (IND) and Tom Forde (SF) were all elected on count 9.

New Ross LEA was the last district to be completed and while independent Pat Barden topped the poll comfortably, it was a clean sweep for Fianna Fáil seeing Michael Sheehan, Michael Whelan and John Fleming make it over the line. There was a bit of a swap for Fine Gael as Brídín Murphy from Clonroche took a seat while Willie Fitzharris failed to retain his. Independent Anthony Connick was also over the moon as he got over the line on the final count too.

Overall, Fianna Fáil were the real winners, completing two clean sweeps in Gorey and New Ross. Fine Gael also maintained, while it was a mixed bag for Labour who saw increases in their vote, but ultimately saw one new candidate come in, but a party stalwart losing out in the North of the county. Sinn Féin will be left licking their wounds having retained only two of five seats and difficult decisions will now have to be made following the failure of their general election candidate.

Wexford People

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