FIANNA Fail’s Cllr James Collins has headed the poll in Limerick City West being elected at the first count along with Fine Gael’s Cllr Maria Byrne.
With 1,211 the quota to reach, they were followed by Labour’s Cllr Joe Leddin (1,154), Sinn Fein’s Malachy McCreesh (952), Fine Gael’s Daniel Butler (721), John Loftus, Anti-Austerity Alliance (642), Sean Lynch, Fianna Fail (519), Fergus Kilcoyne, Fine Gael, (516) and Geraldine Leddin, Fianna Fail (394).
There are seven seats in total here and sitting councillors Tomás Hannon, Labour (369) and Jim Long, Fine Gael (300) look to be out of the running.
“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.
He said Fianna Fail’s candidate selection was paying off around Limerick city and county.
“We worked hard to put our candidates in place and to select where our candidates were located geographically, some new candidates and some experienced candidates, and I think that is beginning to tell. I think it is a vindication of the work we have put in and it is being represented in the percentage of the poll. I hope we will see a lot of that vote transfer to Sean Lynch and to Geraldine Leddin. It is not about topping the poll. I think in the last few days some people have been getting press headlines about topping the poll.
“But what it is actually about is increasing your numbers in the council so you have a substantial team in there that can make a difference. We need to get Limerick working again and that’s why we need a stable council for the next six months, in particular and for the next five years. It is a big change for Limerick in terms of the merged authority and also some of the plans in place for Limerick,” said Cllr Collins, who predicted Fianna Fail could end up with around 12 to 14 seats on the new authority.
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.”
But there is also a significant anti-government vote in Limerick City West, with Sinn Fein’s Malachy McCreesh almost certain to take a seat and John Loftus, AAA, better placed than candidates from the established parties.
Labour could potentially have taken two seats here with 16% of the votes but Cllr Joe Leddin has done extremely well in areas where Cllr Tomas Hannon had taken the lion’s share of his vote five years ago.