Galway West - what the tallies tell us now

Eamon Ó Cuív will top the poll in Galway West; Derek Nolan has lost his seat, Fidelma Healy Eames fourth attempt to enter the Dáil has failed, and Galway might be about to elect it's first woman in more than 20 years, and it's first Sinn Féin TD in almost a century.

Fianna Fáil candidate John Connolly appeared to be the story of the election in the morning hours of the count at the Bailey Allen hall at NUI Galway, with FF figures in bullish form, confidently predicting the party would win two seats. However as the tallies accumulated, and the broader picture came into view, FF hopes of taking two seats receded. Mr Connolly though was happy with his overall performance, doing better than expected. He now has a base he can build on for the 2019 Local Elections.

After the intial 'Connolly Moment', the real business of crunching the figures got underway. It is now a certainty that - as widely expected - FF's Eamon Ó Cuív will be the first elected TD for Galway West (a first count is announcement is expected at 6pm at the earliest ). His tallies show him at above the 15 per cent mark, close to the quota of 16.67 per cent. Given that his running mates John Connolly are at 6.2 and 3.3, he will have more than enopugh in transfers to see him over the line.

Sitting FG TD Seán Kyne will also be returning to the Dáil, but not as emphatically as his Connemara rival. Tallies have shown him close to 10 per cent and with his colleagues, Hildegarde Naughton and John O'Mahony both on 7.3, he too should have enough to see him over the line. However, the fact Naughton and O'Mahony are both level makes it impossible to call which of the two may challenge for a second seat for FG. One at least will be in the mix, but punditry is divided as to who, at this stage, it will be. Only as the official count comes in, will a clearer picture on that emerge.

Labour's State-wide collapse is symbolised in Galway West by the fall of Derek Nolan, whose vote, according to the tallies, will fall to about five per cent. At this stage, there is no hope he can recover the seat, and with, it seems, the former deputy deleting his TD Twitter and Facebook accounts, he is very publically conceding defeat before the first count is called. This is a particularly bitter blow for Labour, given that this is the former seat of Michael D Higgins, which the party had held for more than 25 years, and had spent years before building up.

A combination of the decline in the Labout vote and the fall in support for the Government, only partually explains this. A third factor in Labour's decline comes in the form of the Social Democrats and it's candidate Niall Ó Tuathail, who tallies show will be getting just over five per cent of the vote. Many former Labour voters and those who would have been sympathetic to the party have switched allegiances, leading to a good showing for the first time candidate, who, all side agree, ran an excellent campaign. The Soc Dem's are certainly happy with the party's performance and Mr Ó Tuaithail must be considered a name to watch for the future.

If FG can secure two seats, than the last two vacancies for Galway West will see a Battle Royale between Independent Noel Grealish (10.5 ), Independent Catherine Conolly (7.7 ), and Sinn Féin's Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (8.9 ). From early this morning SF have declared themselves "hopeful" of securing the seat, but will not yet say they are confident. The party are aware it may struggle to attract transfers, knwoing full well that Grealish and Connolly are extremely transfer friendly. A long count, a long night/nights, and a nail biting finish are still to come.


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