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Cork Rocks From Election Shocks

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

The famously conservative constituency of Cork South Central was rocked on Saturday, as for the first time ever, Sinn Fein’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire topped the poll to be elected on the first count, outgunning heavyweights An Tánaiste Simon Coveney, FF Leader Micheál Martin and FF Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath.

The extraordinary performance from Ó’Laoghaire (14,057 first preference votes which saw him distribute a surplus of over 2,000 votes from a quota of 11,429), was part of a huge national swing for his party.

Such was the strength of Ó’Laoghaire’s vote, that experienced tallymen reported him winning or coming very close to winning boxes in Carrigaline, Crosshaven, Ballinlough and elsewhere which previously would’ve been unheard of for a SF candidate.

Coming in behind O’Laoghaire and just exceeding the quota with a final vote of 11,505 on the 6th count was FF Leader, Micheál Martin TD.

With Jerry Buttimer’s (FG)vote collapsing, An Tanaiste Simon Coveney (FG) finished in 3rd place, exceeding the quota on the 8th count with a total of 12,170 votes. Also elected on the 8th count, just shy of the quota, was Michael McGrath TD.

Not far off the pace at the end of counting was the Green Party’s Lorna Bogue, who finished only 1,630 votes off McGrath’s final haul of 10,809.

The Cork South West constituency saw boyfriend and girlfriend pair, Christopher O’Sullivan FF and Holly Cairns SD both elected behind poll topper Michael Collins IND, as sitting TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony lost her seat and Tracton’s Senator Tim Lombard was unsuccessful in his attempt at taking a seat for FG.

Cork South West Couple Elected

At the beginning of her General Election campaign Holly Cairns (Social Democrats) admitted that running against her boyfriend, Fianna Fáil’s Christopher O’Sullivan, was like being in a “badly-written rom-com.” However, the pair had a Hollywood worthy ending as both were elected in a dramatic final count.

Cairns took the final seat in three-seater Cork South West in the early hours of Monday morning, narrowly getting ahead of Fine Gael candidate, Tim Lombard in the eighth count.

It marks the first time in more than 60 years that the constituency has not returned a Fine Gael candidate. Cairns is also the only woman elected to Dáil Eireann in all of Cork City and County.

Speaking on her win, Holly said, “We had been following transfers and knew we were going to do well but we didn’t think we were going to do this well. Nor did we think we would have to. When you think about how much the Social Democrats have achieved in opposition with only two TDs even adding one more or two more or three more makes a massive difference.”

Cairns added that: “It doesn’t quite feel real yet, but it’s great.”

O’Sullivan, who is mayor of County Cork, had been in second place from the start, behind Independent Michael Collins and took the second seat in the constituency with 11,262 votes. He has been a councillor on Cork County Council for 13 years and is the fourth person in his family to go into politics. His father, Christy was previously a TD.

Christopher O’Sullivan, said that he was elated to have been elected and he was delighted for Holly. “She ran a fantastic campaign, she will be a huge addition to Cork South West and to Irish Politics. Of course, I am delighted for her.”

He went on to thank all those who had supported him as well as commiserating with his running mate Margaret Murphy O’Mahony TD.

“Thank You! To the people of Cork South West. Thank you for showing me so much respect and courtesy over the past 3 weeks. To the incredible team of people who knocked on doors, put up posters, tallied, made phone calls, shared social posts or supported me in any way, thank you!"

"To everyone who voted for me, whatever the preference, thank you!"

"It’s an honour to have been elected to the 33rd Dáil. Representing you as a TD will bring with it a huge responsibility. I will work tirelessly for the people of West Cork both on the ground and at national level.”

Christopher added, “I want to commiserate with my running mate Margaret Murphy O'Mahony on losing her Dáil seat."

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