Fine Gael’s Performance in Local Elections a Wake Up Call for Varadkar

By Seamus Whelehan


Local and European Election results are often used by sitting Governments as a midterm review of their progress.  If last week's results are anything to go by, Ireland has begun to form a new political landscape.

A deep sense of discontent towards the current coalition and how they are running the country, was behind the desire for change.    Across Ireland people voted to make that change happen.  For the second time in a row Fianna Fail is the biggest party in Local Government, with the Greens recording the largest Party surge.

Cllr Padraig O’Sullivan was the poll topper for Fianna Fail in Cobh, with James O’Connor getting elected in East Cork on the 6th count for the Party.  In Cobh the Green candidate, Alan O’Connor, was elected on the 8th count while his East Cork counterpart, Liam Quaide, was returned on the 10th count after beating Fianna Fail’s Rosarii Griffin by a short margin.

Fine Gael Cllr Susan McCarth was elected on the eight count following the transfers of their candidate in Youghal John Philips who was eliminated on the seventh count.

Sinn Fein suffered major losses nationally and that was reflected in Cork County, returning just two of their nine outgoing Cllrs.    In Midleton Danielle Twomey, who was co-opted to replace SF Deputy Pat Buckley in 2016, was returned on the 6th count.   Joining the Midleton based Cllr on the straight road is her West Cork comrade, Paul Hayes.

Cllr Mary Linehan Foley, Independent, received the highest first preference votes in the county on 2,699 beating the country’s longest serving politician, Midleton based Noel Collins, by 328 votes.

It was always going to be fertile ground for the opposition, but what now for the Government?

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, is not ruling out a General Election but has said he will not seek the disillusionment of the Dáil in the coming weeks.

With the possibility of 4 by-elections it has the potential of further weakening the fragile government, meaning we may be heading back to the polls before November.

Despite the popularity of Fianna Fail in these midterm results, Party Leader Michael Martin has indicated his Party’s commitment to the confidence and supply agreement until Brexit is resolved.

What, now, are the elected representatives going to do for the people of East Cork once the difficult task of agreeing budgets has been completed?

Below are the first preference votes for each candidate and the count on which the class of 2019 were elected.

Cobh Municipality 6 Seats
Electorate: 26,045
Total Poll: 12,207
Turnout: 46.87%
Spoiled votes: 252
Total Valid Poll: 11,955
Quota: 1,708

Elected Candidates
Barry, Anthony (FG) Count 1
O'Sullivan, Pádraig (FF) Count 1
Sheppard, Sinéad (FG) Count 3
Rasmussen, Cathal (Lab) Count 6
O'Connor, Alan (GP) Count 8
O'Connor, Sean (Ind) Count 8

Count 1
Barry, Anthony (FG) 2,009
Curtin, Ken (SD) 241
Doyle, Karen (I4C) 827
Kidney, Peter (Ind) 399
Murphy, Louise (SF) 513
O'Connor, Alan (GP) 883
O'Connor, Sean (Ind) 1,205
O'Sullivan, Pádraig (FF) 2,608
Rasmussen, Cathal (Lab) 1,550
Reilly, John Paul (FF) 350
Sheppard, Sinéad (FG) 1,370

Midleton Cork Municipality 7 Seats
Electorate: 33,436
Total Poll: 15,398
Turnout: 46.05%
Spoiled votes: 234
Total Valid Poll: 15,164
Quota: 1,896

Elected Candidates
Collins, Noel (Ind) Count 1
Hegarty, Michael (FG) Count 1
Linehan Foley, Mary (Ind) Count 1
O'Connor, James (FF) Count 6
Twomey, Danielle (SF) Count 6
McCarthy, Susan (FG) Count 8
Quaide, Liam (GP) Count 10

Count 1
Collins, Noel (Ind) 2371
Griffin, Rosarii (FF) 1012
Hegarty, Michael (FG) 2154
Linehan Foley, Mary (Ind) 2699
McCarthy, Susan (FG) 1260
Murray, Martin E (Ind) 296
Neville, Shane (SF) 324
Nolan, Eric (Lab) 494
O'Connor, James (FF) 1535
Phillips, John (FG) 492
Quaide, Liam (GP) 1024
Twomey, Danielle (SF) 1503