Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan advanced his political career to emerge from a weekend of tense political drama across the greater midlands region as voters abandoned Fianna Fail in their droves.
Flanagan, who was embarking on his third election campaign, split two returning Fine Gael TDs, Frank Feighan and poll topper Denis Naughten by taking the second seat and in so doing ensuring Fianna Fail were left without a seat in Roscommon/South Leitrim as the make up of the new 31st Dail was form Flanagan immediately set about rolling out some of his proposals which includes a 50 per cent pay cut for TDs.
“My first day in I will be announcing I will be taking a 50 per cent cut not because I want to be a martyr but because that’s all I believe this country can afford,” he said.
A hugely underestimated candidate, Flanagan is the current Co Roscommon Mayor and has campaigned on important local issues such as turf-cutters’ rights and services at Roscommon Hospital.
In Sligo North Leitrim Fianna Fail Eamon Scanlon joined the long list of Fianna Fail TDs who were having a bad day. Trailing Sinn Fein candidate, Michael Colreavy by more than 800 first preference votes, the Ballymote auctioneer eventually saw his hopes disappear on the ninth count led to a monumental collapse in the Fianna Fail vote from 41 per cent in 2007 to just 22 per cent four years on. First time Fine Gael candidate and Sligo County Councillor, Tony McLoughlin took the second seat behind sitting TD, Joe Perry (also Fine Gael).
In Cavan/Monaghan, Fianna Fail were given some brief respite thanks to Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith’s re-election on the eighth count shortly before 3am on Sunday morning, a considerable distance behind Sinn Fein’s Caoimhgin O’Caolain who reached the 11,880 quota on the first count.
However, Smith’s running mate, Monaghan secondary school teacher Margaret Conlon was not so fortunate. She was excluded on the seventh count, thereby allowing Smith’s surplus of 2,787 votes to elect Fine Gael’s Joe O’Reilly, Heather Humphries and Sean Conlon.
Sinn Fein’s Kathryn Reilly almost claimed a second seat for Sinn Fein, narrowly missing out by 521 votes.
Independent candidate and Quinn Insurance employee, Caroline Forde never really featured despite an apparent last minute surge in money for the 41-year old. With just 1912 first preferences and 2.7 per cent of the vote share, Forde was sent crashing out after just three counts.