It was birthday heartbreak for Gabrielle McFadden on the first day of counting in Kenagh last Saturday as the outgoing Fine Gael deputy was forced to concede her seat early in the race.
Signs were ominous for McFadden early in the race with the Athlone native receiving just 2,834 first preference votes after the first count. This left her in eighth place in the standings, and while it was still early in the race to the Dáil, transfers from the following counts did little to help her cause. The highest number of transfers she received came from Manchán Magan at just 76 votes, nowhere near the numbers needed to keep her in contention.
The writing was on the wall midway through the first day of counting for the Fine Gael candidate, and she arrived at the count centre in Kenagh before evening resigned to losing the seat she has held since the 2014 by-election. A gloomy McFadden conceded defeat in her attempts to regain her seat, gave some interviews, and shook hands with all the other candidates before making a swift exit.
Speaking before her official exclusion, McFadden defended Fine Gael and Labour’s time in Government and had a pop at Fianna Fáil’s success in the election. She said the country has been in this situation before “when Fianna Fáil ran the country into the ground and Fine Gael/Labour fixed it”. She added that despite popular opinion, the history books will show that Enda Kenny was “a great leader”.
When it was suggested that Fine Gael’s decision to run Peter Burke may have affected the amount of votes she got, McFadden replied by pointing to Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran’s success as a defining factor. She said Moran had “made the most” out of the recent flooding crisis in Athlone, and added that she hopes he does as much for the region during the next five years as she herself has in the last 18 months. She added that Moran was “a good worker” and wished him well going forward.