Belfast Telegraph

Counting in Ireland’s local government elections to run into third day

Fianna Fail appears on course to remain biggest party at local government level.

Ballots are counted in the local government and European elections at the RDS in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)
Ballots are counted in the local government and European elections at the RDS in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Counting in Ireland’s local government elections will continue into a third day as the last few remaining seats remain up for grabs.

Fianna Fail so far appears to be on course to remain the biggest party at local government level in Ireland.

Fine Gael has gained seats, but the biggest surge will be enjoyed by the Green Party with its major gains.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has suffered huge losses on councils nationwide.

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Former UFC fighter Paddy Holohan won a seat on Dublin County Council for Sinn Fein (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald described the local elections as a “challenging weekend”.

“We were always very conscious that we were operating from a very high base because we had a Sinn Fein surge five years ago,” she added.

“I am disappointed, we are all disappointed, that very many hardworking councillors who have served their community with great integrity and honour, are now not going to be returned to council.

“We are going to have to reflect on that, I imagine there is a number of factors and we need to learn.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the results of the local elections showed a “mixed picture”.

“Our vote is up and we are going to gain seats but not as many as we had hoped for a few weeks ago,” he added.

“Notwithstanding that, it is the first time in 20 years that a party in government has actually gained councillors and that’s not a small thing.

“I am very pleased in my own constituency that it looks like we picked up two gains. There was a time when I was the only Fine Gael councillor in Dublin West, we now have four or five depending on the count.”

There are around 100 seats to be filled across the country.

The first new councillor to be elected was independent Thomas Welby to Galway County Council.

He topped the poll with 2,140 votes in the Connemara North local electoral area, despite not putting up any election posters.

“I said I’ll canvass on the doors and go plastic-free and it went down very well,” he told Ireland’s state broadcaster, RTE News.

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Sinn Fein leader Mary-Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Irish voters went to the polls on Friday to elect 949 councillors across 31 local authorities.

Some of the notable candidates included UFC fighter Paddy Holohan who won a seat on South Dublin County Council as a Sinn Fein councillor.

Ms McDonald congratulated the Greens on their surge, saying it would be “churlish not to acknowledge that”.

“For our part, I want to say firstly to all of our candidates who fought campaigns for weeks and months and to their families, a very big thank you, and to all of our activists and everyone who came out and voted for Sinn Fein,” she said.

“I want to say particularly to those who won’t be returned to the council chambers, who have served their community with great pride and great commitment, I want to say to them, they’ll be back, I have no doubt, and it’ll be our objective from Monday when we recover to win all of those seats back.

“These are very tight contests in many constituencies, last seats will be won or lost in handfuls of votes, that’s the nature of local elections.”

Meanwhile, the plebiscite papers will be counted on Monday.

PA

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