The morning is over and it is well into afternoon now. Already we are looking at changes in the city’s political landscape - and also at how some things remain the same.
The formal counting of votes for the city in Westside is underway. However the final tallies for the sprawling Galway City East ward are in and prove vindication for Independents; uncomfortable reading for Fine Gael; nervous times for Sinn Féin; and real boost for the Greens and Soc Dems.
As expected, ex-PD Independents Declan McDonnell and Terry O’Flaherty have topped the poll, with, as was also expected, Cllr McDonnell overtaking Cllr O’Flaherty to top the poll with, according to tallies 1,049 first preferences to 964.
There was expectation that Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Mike Crowe [pictured above] would retain his seat and that his running mate, the ambitious Alan Cheevers would be in contention for the final seat. As the tallies show, however, Mr Cheevers has potentially outpolled his colleague, taking 940 to Cllr Crowe’s 727.
The quota is expected to be between 900 - 1,000. If the tallies are correct, Cllrs McDonnell and O’Flaherty are already home and dry, while at the very least Mr Cheevers should get in on the second or third count. Cllr Crowe will be waiting a little longer, but will require transfers. The question then arises, from where? Mr Cheevers may not have a huge amount to spare, but some will come from Independent politicians and Fine Gael.
The expected ‘soft backlash’ against the Government has left it’s mark on Galway City East, with a dismal showing for FG’s two candidates - Cllr John Walsh (444 ) [pictured above with controversial housing Minister Eoghan Murphy] and Donal Lynch (213 ). Cllr Walsh is, according to tallies, in seventh place, just outside the range of taking a seat.
He is not without hope, though. If FG can manage a disciplined vote transfer - as it did in the 2016 General Election - and if the majority of Mr Lynch’s vote goes to his running mate, coupled with some transfers from Cllrs McDonnell and Walsh, and scraps from Renua, and others, he can hold on. Nothing is certain though, and tense times await Cllr Walsh.
Also in for a tense time is Sinn Féin’s Cllr Mairead Farrell. Despite being one of the most impressive performers in local politics, a general slump in the SF vote across the State (Labour and FF sources had informed the Galway Advertiser that the SF vote would be down ), as well as the surge towards the Greens, has left her in sixth place.
Cllr Farrell’s [pictured above] tally of 521 is down considerably from 782 in 2014. However she can take heart from the fact the Cllr Noel Larkin’s 2014 first preference vote was 513. She is placed to get transfers from Solidarity's Conor Burke, may get some from Nuala Nolan of Aontú, but will also hope that some of the estimated 366 votes from Claire Hillary of the Greens will come back to her. Cllr Farrell is not out yet, but nervous times await.
Cllr Larkin appears to have improved his first preference in this election, with the tallies estimating him at 664. He can also expect transfers from Renua and Anotú, and will take some from other Independents as well. Like councillors Farrell and Walsh, he will be in the hunt for the last two seats.
While it is only tallies at this stage, the Soc Dems are pleased with their three candidates overall performance in the city. The GCE candidate, Owen Hanley [pictured above] was both delighted, and genuinely surprised at his tally of 415, only 29 behind sitting councillor John Walsh. While he will be transfer friendly, it may be too much to expect him to get over the line at this stage, but, it could mark the first stage of a longer career in politics, should he choose to stand again.