Longford’s Joe Flaherty was elected with 11,064 votes after the tenth count in the Longford Westmeath Count Centre in Athlone on Tuesday night.
After an extraordinarily tense afternoon, it appeared for some time that transfers from Louise Heavin and Alan Mangan could bring a fairytale ending to this election for Kevin Boxer Moran by giving him enough votes to create a significant lead over his rivals. But it was not to be for the Athlone man.
Flaherty was elected along with Peter Burke ( 11,034) and Robert Troy (10,793) coming in third and fourth.
Troy might wryly reflect on the irony of taking the fourth seat but his team can content themselves with the fact that they ran a tightly managed campaign with just 301 votes leaking over to him from Longford compared to over 1700 in 2016.
When the count wrapped up on Sunday, Sorca Clarke had been elected and her surplus distributed with Kevin Boxer Moran getting 97 of that surplus, Dom Parker of SBP getting 93, Louise Heavin 72 and Barbara Smyth 67.
When Frank Kilbride and Donal Jackson were eliminated on the second count, it was Flaherty who benefitted the most - 52 votes and Carrigy - 48 votes. But Boxer wasn't far behind picking up 39 votes while Anna Kavanagh picked up 34 at this stage. When Dom Parker was eliminated, it was his running mate Barbara Smyth who picked up most of the vote, not surprisingly, with 192 votes while Louise Heavin got 31 and Boxer Moran 30.
Anna Kavanagh was eliminated on the fourth count and her votes, too, kept Boxer Moran in the mix - 82 for him, 51 for James Reynolds, 50 for Barbara Smyth and 47 for Louise Heavin.
When Barbara Smyth was eliminated, Louise Heavin and Boxer Moran once again picked up chunks of vote - 233 for Louise and 119 for Boxer Moran. However the strong patter that was emerging was that Boxer Moran and Louise Heavin were both very transfer friendly and were picking up votes in unexpected places. Also the strong anti-government vibe was resounding though the ballot papers.
James Reynolds was eliminated on the 6th count and his 1130 votes transferred mostly to Boxer Moran - 266 votes while Flaherty and Troy also picked up some votes here - 151 and 83 respectively.
But it was the elimination of Gab McFadden that really got thinks moving at the count centre. Not surprisingly Burke picked up the most here - 575 votes - while Boxer got 383 and Carrigy 173.
The elimination of Alan Mangan and Louise Heavin changed things utterly. They had just over 5,000 votes between them and they distributed it to Boxer (1483 votes), Troy (959) and 274 to Carrigy. This brought Boxer right back into contention and suddenly all the focus shifted to him.
He was picking up votes from most candidates and now had nearly up over 2,500 votes as the count progressed. The stress began to show on both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail faces when it emerged that he had gained 383 of Gab McFadden’s vote putting him 400 ahead of Peter Burke and just 200 behind Joe Flaherty.
After the distribution of Heavin and Mangan’s vote on the ninth count, a clearer picture emerged. Boxer was in third place with 9,229 votes. He had garnered a whopping 1483 votes from in that round but with Peter Burke on 8,325 and Joe Flaherty on 8,236 it was clear that Micheal Carrigy’s transfers would bring Burke and Flaherty over the line.
After securing 6334 in the first count Micheal Carrigy had hoped initially to pick up enough votes to put him in contention throughout the day here and potentially pick up a second seat for Longford. But these votes did not materialise.
As the counts progressed he garnered an additional 647 votes, the largest proportion coming from Gab McFadden (173) and Alan Mangan and Louise Heavin (274). He was eliminated on the tenth count and speaking to longfordleader.ie this evening he reflected on the factors that contributed to Fine Gael’s failure to take two seats in this constituency.
Politics is a cruel business and in the end, after two years of intense rivalry between Joe Flaherty and Micheal Carrigy, there is no small irony in the fact that Carrigy was to be the king maker.
Just over 40% of his 6,981 distribution went to Joe Flaherty (2,828) while Burke secured 2,709 (38%) bringing both men into the second and third seats respectively. Robert Troy took the last seat with 10,793 votes taking the fourth and final seat.
Full breakdown of the count below: