After the drawn out process of the previous day - where most of the time was spent sorting ballots before the counting began things moved much smooter on Sunday, with the Westport count being completed in the early evening and the Ballina count not long after 10pm and just the Claremorris count which going by the tally figures looked a forgone conclusion wating to be finished in the early hours of the morning.
Duffy steals the show as Munnelly holds on
Elections are full of stories and the Ballina Local Electoral Area did not disappoint in relation to them.
The most interesting tale from this count is the performance of newcomer independent candidate and now councillor Mark Duffy. The 27-year-old Ballina man registered 2095 first preference votes breaking the quota on the first count along with Fine Gael’s John O’Hara who retained his seat for the second time.
Duffy pulled votes from all over the area and from other candidates, with his youthful and exuberant campaign capturing the imagination of not only the young vote in Ballina but people in general.
O’Hara romped home with 2123 number one votes and it looked for a while that he might be Fine Gael’s only representative in the area, but thanks to big transfer from his party colleague Aileen Horkan on the final count it saw him pull ahead of Fianna Fail’s Eammon Moore to take the last seat.
The battle early on looked to be between Munnelly and independent councillor Seamus Weir for the last seat, but as the counts moved on the Knockmore man picked picked up a steady stream of transfers to ensure that he held on to his seat in the council.
Fianna Fail’s Annie May Reape was third past the post going over the quota the seventh count having fallen just six short on the previous count following the distribution of former Fianna Fail town councillor, but now running as an independent Willie Nolan.
Her party colleague - Crosmolina based Michael Loftus always looked assured of holding on to his seat after getting 1320 first preference votes, but he had to wait until the final count to pass the required 1753 votes needed.
Fianna Fail: Annie May Reape, Michael Loftus
Fine Gael: John O’Hara, Jarlath Munnelly
Independent: Mark Duffy, Seamus Weir.
Independents score on the double
In the Westport Local Electoral Area two of the four seats were filled by independent councillors with Christy Hyland retaining his seat and Johnny O’Malley winning back the seat he lost five years ago when he was a Fine Gael councillor.
O’Malley had sought a spot on the Fine Gael ticket, but failed to get across the line in convention and ran as an independent.
He was involved in a tense battle with Fianna Fail’s Chirs Maxwell for the last seat and saw him off on the seventh and final count to take the fourth seat.
Hyland put in a big showing to top the popular poll with 1442 number ones and while it took him a few more counts than expected to cross the line he did comfortably in the end. He was followed by another man making a return to politics.
Fine Gael’s Peter Flynn opted not to stand five years ago after serving one term on the county council, but came back for another swing this time around and he picked up 1250 votes to set himself up for a return to the council chamber.
The other seat was taken by Fianna Fail’s Brendan Mulroy who from the off with his 1191 votes looked set to retain the seat he won for the first time five years ago which he did on the final count without reaching the quota, but was never in danger of any of the rest overtaking him.
Fianna Fail: Brendan Mulroy
Fine Gael: Peter Flynn
Independent: Johnny O’Malley, Christy Hyland