Some new faces for Claremorris area but six outgoing returned

he filling of the seven seats in the Claremorris electoral area was a straightforward enough affair in the end and it took just six counts to see it through.

There were 12 names on the ticket, with seven of them being outgoing councillors, competing for seven seats, compared to West Mayo where 17 candidates contested the same number of seats.

Of all the areas, this one is the least changed in the new make-up of Mayo County Council.

John Caulfield, the Fianna Fáil candidate from Kilkelly, is the newest councillor for the area, although technically there is also a new representative in the form of Gerry Murray (SF ), as he moved from the old Swinford electoral area and comfortably retained his seat here, with a haul of 1,971 first preferences.

Joining these two are Patsy O’Brien (FG ); John Cribben (FG ); Tom Connolly (FG ); Damien Ryan (FF ) and Richard Finn (Ind ).

Murray, O’Brien and Finn all made it through on the first count.

Outgoing member Michael Burke (FG ) was the only casualty amongst the seven outgoing members in the Claremorris area, when he just couldn’t hold out against Caulfield in the run for the last seat.

With 1,120 first preferences, Burke didn’t pick up enough transfers in the ensuing five counts to get out ahead of the Kilkelly man, who built considerably on his 2009 campaign and brought his first preference haul up from 940 on that occasion to 1,518 last weekend.

Fianna Fáil will be happy to have gained back more of their support in the Claremorris area.

They lost two seats here in 2009 (Michael Carty and Pat McHugh ) leaving Damien Ryan as their sole representative in the area over the last five years.

While Caulfield will double their team, locally the party will no doubt have been somewhat disappointed that their Claremorris town candidate, JP Kean, was never really in contention.

He did however bring in 1,001 first preferences, which was no mean feat in this area.

Kean’s strong town vote left Tom Connolly with a nervous enough wait until the sixth and last count, when 427 transfers from Kean finally got him up and out of the danger zone.

Finn had an outstanding election, bringing in 2,050 first preferences but it was O’Brien who topped the poll with 2,347 first preferences, leaving him with 404 votes to spare on the quota of 1,943.

Again, as in 2009, there is no female representation in the Claremorris electoral area. Two female candidates, Kilmaine woman Mags Sheehan from the Green Party and Marie Kilcullen, an Independent from Brickens who put her name forward late in the game, just before the nominations closed, never really featured in the competition, polling 103 and 403 first preferences respectively and going out in the early rounds.

Independent Harry Walsh, also from Kilmaine, had hoped to take back the seat he lost in 2009 but with 826 first preferences, he didn’t get in the race.

O’Brien, Finn and Murray all exceeded the quota after the first count but Ballyhaunis representative John Cribben had to wait until the sixth count to do the same.

That left four men standing for three seats. Burke (1,559 ) was knocked out and Ryan (1,913 ); Connolly (1,823 ) and Caulfied (1,771 ) were deemed elected.

It may not have been a high drama, ding-dong affair in Claremorris but it is not a case of status quo either.

Fianna Fáil are up slightly and Michael Burke paid the price, bringing to an end five years of representing south Mayo in the council chamber.

The area is also getting a Sinn Féin representative in Gerry Murray, and John Caulfield is a new voice to represent Kilkelly’s interests in Mayo County Council too.

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