WEST Cork made history last Saturday when its voters elected the first woman ever for the constituency, and its first independent deputy since 1957.
The election of poll-topper Margaret Murphy O’Mahony means the Bandon-based Fianna Fáil deputy is now the only female TD in all of Co Cork.
Independent Cllr Michael Collins defied both the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil number crunchers by taking an impressive 6,765 first preference votes, and the second seat in Cork South West, with a final tally of 11,063.
But the duo’s success meant that Labour’s Michael McCarthy and Fine Gael’s Noel Harrington both lost their seats, with FG’s Jim Daly TD being the only incumbent to retain his place in the Dáil.
Cllr Murphy O’Mahony’s performance, with 8,482 first preference votes, saw her take the first seat on the 5th count, with a final vote of 11,962.
She admitted she was ‘surprised’ at the result because she believed she would be in contention for the third seat, and not the first.
To top the poll and make history, she said, was a ‘surreal’ experience. She said: ‘It’s hard to believe I am going to be in the history books now because of this. But I am delighted to make history for very good reasons.’
The councillor also welcomed the fact that her elevation to the Dáil would ‘open things up for other women’ who will now see that a bid for Dáil Éireann is ‘possible and doable.’
Speaking to The Southern Star, moments after his election, a jubilant Michael Collins admitted: ‘We slipped in under the radar.’ Michael Collins said he knew – even if the statisticians didn’t – that he was going to take a seat. ‘I could tell it on the doorsteps,’ he said.
Both Murphy O’Mahony and Collins exceeded the quota of 10,815 on the fifth count, at the Community Hall in Clonakilty on Saturday night and were deemed elected.
In the same count, outgoing Fine Gael TD, Jim Daly, whose first preference vote of 7,370 earlier suggested he might take the second seat, slipped into third and was deemed elected, without having reached the quota (10,815), with 9,799 votes.
The outgoing Labour TD Michael McCarthy, polled over 1,000 votes in his hometown of Dunmanway, plus around 500 in Clonakilty and Kinsale, but low figures elsewhere in the constituency garnered just 3,035 first preferences – which, at 7%, was half of the 14.3% he achieved in 2011.
The outgoing Fine Gael TD, Noel Harrington, had hoped the Fine Gael vote management strategy of canvassing both his home base in Beara and the eastern end of the constituency in Kinsale would secure his seat.
Even with tally figures showing that he polled more than 1,000 in Kinsale and Beara, as well as more than 1,500 in Bantry, his final 6,433 first preference vote left him trailing Michael Collins from the very first count and without a seat in the 32nd Dáil.