Cork North West analysis:
WHEN we looked into the political crystal ball a few weeks ago to predict the Cork North West outcome, we – and the bookies – were correct in saying that Fine Gael’s Aine Collins would struggle to hold her seat.
The biggest threat to her seat was current County Mayor and independent Cllr John Paul O’Shea, and he certainly gave her a run for her money.
In the seventh count, transfers of 1,210 from Sinn Féin’s Nigel Dennehy saw O’Shea surge ahead of Collins but in the end he came up short, by just 249 votes, in the race for the third seat.
Had he managed to squeeze in, he would have created history by becoming the first independent TD in what many consider to be one of the more conservative constituencies.
O’Shea told The Southern Star that he was thrilled with his showing in the election.
‘Achieving nearly 5,000 first-preference votes as an independent candidate in a very tight conservative constituency was remarkable,’ he said.
‘I live in the very periphery of the constituency and losing areas such as Mallow, Ballyclough, Buttevant and Mourneabbey from my current Council area was always going to be a challenge for me.
‘Also, having four other independent candidates in the field spread the independent vote. However, as you know, those came to back to me in the transfers, resulting in me just losing out in the end.
‘I want to thank all my campaign team, made up of family, friends and neighbours, for their time and dedication over the last few weeks and hopefully we will go again into the future,’ he added.
‘There is a change in mindset in Cork North West,’ he told the Star, ‘and I believe the people they are looking for an independent voice to represent them in the Dáil into the future.’
In 2011, Cork North West voters returned two Fine Gael candidates and one Fianna Fáil and things didn’t change that much this time around, except it was two Fianna Fáil candidates that got across the line.
With Cork South West making history by electing its first female TD, Cork North West wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill race, either.
However, no one saw Fianna Fáil’s Aindrias Moynihan emerging so strongly. Tallies earlier in the morning indicated that he was in line to top the poll, but it wasn’t until the first count on Saturday afternoon that it was confirmed that he had received 8,924 first preference votes.
Not bad for his first time out in a general election. Party followers weren’t surprised that the councillor from Cúil Aodha had done so well.
Aindrias undertook a vigorous campaign and captured the large urban area of Ballincollig – key to his success.
Despite his losing out to Michael Creed for the first seat, it was nevertheless a stunning victory for Aindrias and Fianna Fáil too. Cllr Moynihan has always been a vocal critic of government policies that attack rural Ireland and now he takes his seat in the Dáil, following in the footsteps of his father Donal, who was also a TD. It wasn’t until the eighth count at the gym in Coláiste Choilm in Ballincollig that the first TD was elected – Fine Gael’s Michael Creed benefiting from transfers following Áine Collins’ elimination, surpassing the quota of 11,740.
FG supporters were certainly on song and they lifted Michael high on their shoulders to celebrate his victory.
Once Creed’s surplus votes were divided between the other remaining candidates, it was clear then that both Aindrias and Michael Moynihan had secured their seats, leading to raucous celebrations from their supporters.
In the end, Aindrias Moynihan took 19% of the first preference votes, followed by Michael Creed on 18.89%, and Michael Moynihan on 15.61%.
Thankfully, there were no recounts and the last two seats were claimed at 1am, but it was a long day indeed for both staff and supporters of the candidates.
The path to the nearby McDonalds was well and truly worn as people sought sustenance during a very long day.
In the morning the media shared a room with the tallymen, who had been printing up the numbers and sharing the thrilling trends.
Once the real counting began, it was a case of running in and out of the room to hear the results of each count and file them to our respective social media sites.
As election counts go, it could have been a lot worse – thankfully it finished at a somewhat respectable hour.
But, could we be back in the sports hall in Ballincollig sooner than we think?
The media consensus is definite: we’ll bring the flask and sandwiches next time ‘round.