CLLR James Collins topped the poll in Limerick City West as Fianna Fail and Fine Gael took two seats apiece in this seven-seater.
But Sinn Fein’s Malachy McCreesh and John Loftus of the Anti-Austerity Alliance repeated the trend seen elsewhere in the city as both got elected.
The line-up of area councillors is completed by former mayors Maria Byrne (Fine Gael) and Joe Leddin (Labour) and first-time candidates, Fine Gael’s Daniel Butler and Fianna Fail’s Sean Lynch.
Another former mayor, Jim Long (Fine Gael) lost his seat here - as did Labour’s Tomas Hannon.
McCreesh, Loftus and Lynch were elected at the thirteenth count after the transfer of Geraldine Leddin’s (Fianna Fail) votes saw Sean Lynch, a former Garda detective, overtake Fine Gael’s Fergus Kilcoyne to take the final seat.
“I’m delighted. I got a great result today. We ran a great campaign and I had a great team and we see the results of that today,” said Cllr Collins in heading the polls after tallies predicted he would be beaten into second place by Cllr Byrne.
“The reception was great. I tried to put together a team that hadn’t been involved in party politics before. It was great to see the community spirit and positivity of people who came out to help me. I had a small army of people who gave me an evening or two evenings to help me get elected and obviously it has paid off. In an age when a lot of people are anti-everything, it was great to see that positivity,” said Cllr Collins.
Cllr Byrne, meanwhile, said the government parties had done better in Limerick City West than around the country.
“I am absolutely delighted. The party here locally in this area took 35% of the vote and between them the two government parties took 50% of the vote against the tide. That was quite an achievement in Limerick City West.”
Cllr McCreesh, who has been a tallyman for Sinn Fein at previous counts, said he was happy to step into the limelight on this occasion. Having declared barely a month ago, it was obvious from the earliest tallies that he would be comfortably elected here.
“People might say it looked like we came in at the last minute but there is strategy behind the way we managed to hoist three people up here last night and throughout the country. We have actually planned the thing in Limerick city for quite a while. We knew it would be very tough in my own area we didn’t know if we could actually win the seat but we knew we could go very close. We had the figures, we had done little polls and we knew what was going on,” said Cllr McCreesh.
“I would have preferred somebody younger than myself,” said the 60-year-old from Gouldavoher, “but I was the person best-placed in my area to go forward in targeting the seat. We now have achieved what we set out to do - and had seemed almost impossible.”
Another taken aback by how well he had done was Cllr John Loftus of the Anti-Austerity Alliance.
Growing up near the Glasgow shipyards devastated by Thatcher, Cllr Loftus has over his lifetime been laid off by IBM in Scotland and by Dell in Limerick and knows the sharp end of liberal economics.
“I’m overwhelmed. I came here almost 14 years ago and I met a beautiful lady. I never would have believed I would have stood for election. But I love Limerick city and it means the world to me. I’m so proud and I’m going to do my utmost to make this city and this country a better place,” vowed Cllr Loftus.
There were emotional scenes meanwhile as Cllr Daniel Butler, co-opted on to the council after the tragic death of his father Richard, easily won a seat for Fine Gael.