The Ger and George Show
Local elections 2019
Joe Ryan cut a dejected figure as he strolled around an emptying St Joseph's Community Centre on Sunday evening. The Labour candidate and former councillor was one of the talking points after missing out on the final seat on Wexford County Council for the second election in a row.
Joe's party colleague George Lawlor was the first elected in Wexford on the first count having won over 20% of first preference votes with 2,362 - his strongest showing since he was first elected in 2004. Initially, Labour leader Brendan Howlin was in buoyant mood as the possibility of a clean sweep for the party in town looked a distinct possibility. However, it was the agony and the ecstasy as on the final count, Maura Bell made it over the line to claim a seat, while Joe left empty handed once more. Always a team player, however, Joe was still front and centre to congratulate his colleague on her success.
If George dominated the polls in Wexford, it was Ger Carthy who was the huge success in Rosslare. Having topped the polls in Wexford the last time out, the independent candidate was always favourite to do it again in the new Rosslare LEA, however, few could have predicted just how strong his vote would be, again taking over 20% of first preferences with 2,317 and becoming the very first councillor elected to Wexford County Council this time out.
Fine Gael followed the poll-toppers in in both districts. Having made the switch from Gorey to Wexford, CBS Vice-Principal John Hegarty was relatively unsure what to expect, however, he hit the quota on first preferences with two votes to spare to join George Lawlor on being elected on the first count.
Having overcome mental health difficulties in the recent past, Frank Staples polled very strongly and comfortably hit the quota once Carthy's transfers were dealt with to take the second seat in the new district.
Another major talking point over the weekend was the performance of independent candidate Leonard Kelly, who exceeded even his own expectations. Having unsuccessfully run in local elections last time our in 2014 and then as a candidate for the Social Democrats in the 2016 general election, Kelly felt that he had done enough to take a seat this time out, but he thought it would be a fight for the last one.
As it turned out the independent candidate had a smile on his face from early on, taking an impressive 1,114 votes. He was elected on count five and enjoyed the celebrations with his family.
While she had to wait a while, there was no upset for Fianna Fáil general election hopeful Lisa McDonald after she was elected on count seven in Rosslare. There had been some doubt over how she would fare in Rosslare, with some suggestions that the majority of her vote lay in Wexford town, but she was delighted to make the cut.
It was at this point that things got interesting in Rosslare. With not much separating Michael Wallace (FF) and Mick Roche (SF), the Wellingtonbridge man called for a recount after the tallies he had received didn't match up to the figures coming back. However, just short of a couple of hours in, Wallace saw things weren't going his way and withdrew his request leaving Roche to battle it out with Aontú newcomer Jim Codd. Sinn Féin struggled right across the county and Roche was left with a real dogfight to retain his seat with things coming right down to the wire, however, ultimately Codd emerged on top and took the final Rosslare seat.
While on the face of things there weren't too many shocks in Wexford LEA, few would have predicted that the veteran Davy Hynes would be scrapping at the bottom to take a final seat. Also while early tallies suggested he was comfortable, Tom Forde (SF) was left sweating til the last and ended up in the final Wexford seat. Maura Bell was agonisingly close to the quota for a few counts and Garry Laffan was on course to take the one predicted Fianna Fáil seat, but that left another dogfight at the bottom with Forde, Hynes, Colin Murphy and Joe Ryan.
Count nine was the decisive one, seeing Bell and Laffan over the line and they were followed by Forde and Hynes. The way things stand Fine Gael occupy two out of four seats in the Rosslare District. It will be interesting to see what kind of mayoral pact forms in Wexford, with two Labour, two non-party candidates and one each for Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin creating a mixed bag.
* For full election coverage, see this week's edition of the Wexford People