Two Fianna Fail, two Fine Gael and one Sinn Féin. That’s how the seating arrangement for Carlow-Kilkenny looks in the wake of Election 2016, the returning officer bringing proceedings to a close just before midnight Saturday.
With a quota of 11,669 votes, it wasn’t until the seventh count that Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness was elected, first past the post ahead of running-mates Bobby Aylward and Jennifer Murnane O’Connor with a total of 11,903 votes.
— KCLR 96FM (@kclr96fm) February 28, 2016
Fine Gael’s John Paul Phelan (14,200) and Sinn Féin’s Kathleen Funchion (11,720) were elected on the result of the tenth count, which included the distribution of some 6,588 votes from Fine Gael councillor David Fitzgerald.
Of those 6,588 votes, 3,978 transferred to John Paul Phelan pushing him well beyond the quota while 204 transfers to Kathleen Funchion got her past the 153 mark she required to claim a seat.
In a straight Fine Gael transfer, 1,260 votes transferred to Carlow TD Pat Deering was the catalyst for a Lazarus-like comeback when it looked at one point like the remaining seats would be filled by Fianna Fáil’s Bobby Aylward and Jennifer Murnane O’Connor.
With Aylward looking relatively safe heading into the eleventh count, the surplus of John Paul Phelan sent 2,214 of 2,531 votes to Pat Deering, as such sealing the final count with the returning officer deeming Aylward (11,335) and Deering (11,149) elected without reaching quota.
Jennifer Murnane O’Connor completed the eleventh count with a total of 9,518 votes, missing out on the final seat to fellow Carlovian Pat Deering.
Following tallies, the first casualties of the election process were Noel G. Walsh (IND) and Keith Gilligan (IND) before Paddy Manning (IND), Conor MacLiam (AAA) and Adrienne Wallace (PBP) were eliminate in the second, third and fourth counts respectively.
Walsh, also a 2015 by-election candidate, polled 164 first preference votes with Gilligan picking up 456.
Patrick McKee (RENUA) and Malcolm Noonan (GP) were eliminated in the fifth and sixth counts.
McKee, one of the first candidates to arrive at the count centre in the early stages of Saturday afternoon declared the day “Fianna Fail’s day” before bowing out with 3,005 votes, over 8,000 below quota and far below his by-election final vote count less than 12 months ago.
Labour Vote Collapses
Starting off our day, two exit polls from RTE and the Irish Times suggested a national average of 6-7% for a Labour vote, a figure reflected in Carlow-Kilkenny as sitting TD Ann Phelan tallied just about the 6% mark when all boxes had been tallied before lunchtime.
Despite picking up some 826 transfers from Malcom Noonan, Minister Phelan was eliminated on the eighth count on a final vote count of 5,596, her resulting transfers mainly following government lines.
Relief For Fine Gael
Over the course of the day, one soundbite that kept occurring was that “better slogans could have been used” in relation to Fine Gael’s ‘Let’s keep the recovery going’ tagline.
Indeed in early interviews with KCLR, both John Paul Phelan and Pat Deering, later too with David Fitzgerald (eliminated ninth count), suggested that the national strategy for Fine Gael hadn’t connected with the electorate.
While they may have looked under pressure to retain their seats early in the day, the late surge in transfers ensured both relief and potentially another five years for both sitting Fine Gael TDs.
Relive The Entire Day
KCLR’s election team were on hand at The Hub, Cillin Hill, from the first box opening to the last seat being filled.
You can relive the entire day through our live election blog here, containing video, photos, tweets, quotes and all the facts and figures across counts and tallies.
We’ll have more reaction on air Sunday and on KCLR Live on Monday morning as counting continues around the country over the weekend.
For now though, it’s back to work for Fianna Fáil’s Bobby Aylward and John McGuinness along with Fine Gael’s John Paul Phelan and Pat Deering, while Kilkenny’s Kathleen Funchion will look to hit the ground running with the opportunity provided by taking her first seat in Dáil Eireann.
— KCLR 96FM (@kclr96fm) February 28, 2016