Following a marathon 20-hour count in Kenagh, Fine Gael’s James Bannon is the only Longford-based representative in the 31st Dáil Eireann. Fianna Fail, whose vote was cut in half, faced wipe-out in the constituency before being rescued by postmaster Robert Troy in the battle for the last seat.
Troy’s victory ensures that Ballynacargy has two TDs in the village, as Labour’s Willie Penrose was returned once again, as poll topper for the third time in-a-row.
Nicky McFadden took the third seat, on what was a good day for Fine Gael, but it could have been better had Mullingar accountant Peter Burke managed to hold off the challenge of Troy to take that fourth seat.
However, after party colleagues Peter Kelly and Mary O’Rourke were eliminated, Troy got ahead of Burke in the count and stayed there until the end, when at 4.40am on Sunday morning, the result was finally declared.
It was a remarkable victory for 29-year-old Troy, who started in sixth position following the first count, behind Sinn Fein’s Paul Hogan in fifth – who doubled his vote - and the aforementioned Burke, in third.
The significant counts for Troy, whose mother is from Longford, came in the third and sixth when party colleagues O’Rourke and Kelly were eliminated. In those two counts alone he managed to pick up 3,667 votes in transfers, and it was after Peter Kelly bowed out that it became obvious that he was about to secure an unlikely win for the party – he was 10/1 with bookmakers four weeks ago.
Troy’s success came at the expense of sitting Longford TD Peter Kelly, who confirmed to the Leader this week that he will retire from politics. A councillor since 1985, Kelly served as TD for the county since 2002, succeeding former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds. In the build-up to the election, Troy was publicly backed by Albert’s son, Philip.
First past the post in Longford-Westmeath was Willie Penrose, whose outstanding vote-getting record must now put him in line for a junior ministerial position when party leader Eamon Gilmore sits down to divide up the positions this weekend.
He reached the quota in the 2nd count and was followed by another sitting TD James Bannon in the sixth count, who holds the mantle of being Longford’s representative in Dáil Eireann.
As the party’s Deputy spokesperson on Environment with special responsibility for Heritage, Bannon will also be looking for some key government position this week, but with 70-odd other TDs to contend with, the Legan man will face stiff opposition.
Third to be elected on Sunday morning last was Fine Gael Nicky McFadden, who finally made it to Dáil Eireann on her third attempt. The Athlone-based politician finally emerged from the shadow of Mary O’Rourke, who confirmed on Saturday night that she has no plans to run for Presidency, but did announce her intention to pen her memoirs.
Full coverage inside this week’s Longford Leader.