Fine Gael’s Peter Burke who secured over 6,000 first preference votes, narrowly missed out on winning a third seat for his party in the Longford/Westmeath constituency, following last Friday’s General Election. The 28-year-old Mullingar local area representative increased his vote by 65% since his first run in the national political arena in the 2007 general election, where he tallied 3,988 first preference votes. He now believes that he is in serious contention to take a seat in Seanad Eireann.
Despite the fact that he polled 6,629 first preference votes, it was the transfers of Fianna Fail’s O’Rourke and Kelly that ultimately sealed Burke’s fate when he became the ‘last man standing’ following the eighth count in Kenagh during the early hours of last Sunday morning when Fine Gael’s Nicky McFadden and Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy were elected to the last two seats in the constituency.
Following the distribution of Peter Kelly’s votes after his elimination on the sixth count, indications were, that transfers were not going in Burke’s favour.
“It was always going to be tough because of the fact that I was dry for transfers,” he explained, adding that both O’Rourke and Kelly’s votes “were always going to favour Fianna Fáil”.
“I was among the top three candidates in a four seater and that left me in serious contention for a seat. However, O’Rourke and Kelly’s votes were core Fianna Fáil votes and they did not favour me.”
Because he polled so high in first preference votes, Burke is now the leading Fine Gael candidate nationally with the highest first preference votes, not to get elected, a position which he believes could earn him a place in Seanad Eireann, even though it is not certain how long the Seanad will last as his party’s policy is to abolish that institution.
“I would definitely consider taking a seat in the Seanad, if it was offered to me,” he said. “I would say that I am in with a good chance because of the fact that I am a Fine Gael candidate who didn’t secure a seat, despite the fact that I polled such a high number of first preference votes,” he said.
“My vote actually increased by 65% since the last election, which is a great achievement, but I will need to do a bit of thinking over the next week to decide where I go politically from here.”
The ‘last man standing’ concluded by saying that he was “very proud” of his county and his constituency.