Morgan reflects upon his electoral options

James Morgan pictured while taking down his election posters on Tuesday morning. Photo: Shelley Corcoran
James Morgan was in a pragmatic mood as he started to take down his election posters on Tuesday morning.

James Morgan was in a pragmatic mood as he started to take down his election posters on Tuesday morning.

The by-election candidate knew he faced a big challenge in the last week’s election as the successful candidate Gab McFadden was always favourite to win the seat.

But Mr Morgan was delighted nonetheless to secure 6,000 first preference votes.

“I had just 16 days to run a campaign without any party machine behind me and no political background so I was thrilled to achieve 6,000 votes,” he told the Leader.

This was a strong performance from the first-time candidate and certainly puts him in a credible position to run in the next general election as an independent candidate.

To achieve that vote, Longford people put their party affiliations to one side and voted for the Longford man.

When he was eventually eliminated on the fourth count, his votes went everywhere - to Boxer Moran (964), Paul Hogan (814), Aengus O’Rourke (1,048) and Gab McFadden (1,451).

Speaking afterwards to the Leader, Mr Morgan said he was extremely humbled by his vote and he thanked all those who had voted for him last Friday.

“It was a fantastic achievement given the time constraints and I just wish we had another week or two.”

The father-of-four added that: “I am glad that because of my decision to enter the race the spotlight was placed on the issues facing Co Longford and when I congratulated Gabrielle I asked her not to forget about Longford because I think it is important to highlight that this county is suffering.

As someone who is on the ground in Longford, I am happy to work with her to ensure that the county gets its fair share.”

Athlone’s Gab McFadden was leading from the onset and after securing 12,365 first preference votes, she was well ahead going into the final furlong of the race.

Fianna Fail’s Angeus O’Rourke had 12,365 votes and Sinn Fein’s Paul Hogan remained in third place with 7,548 first preference votes to his credit.

James Morgan held 5,659 first preferences or 12.16% while Kevin Boxer Moran followed close behind with 11.49% or 5,626 votes and Brian Fagan had 4,195 votes (8.6%).

Although she secured an impressive vote, it was to be another six counts before Gab McFadden was deemed elected without reaching the mamoth quota of 24,502.

Her voting pattern in this election indicated very clearly that she scooped votes from across all party lines and came consistently from both sides of the constituency.

“I am honoured to represent the people of Longford/Westmeath,” she tearfully added as she accepted her new role with grace and dignity.

Read our full by-election analysis in our special Election 2014 supplement with this edition of the Longford Leader.