NEWLY elected Fine Gael TD for Limerick, Patrick Oâ€™Donovan, has said that he is â€œstunnedâ€ and â€œflabbergastedâ€ that he received such a strong backing from voters in all parts of the new county constituency.
The strong performance of the Newcastle West-based county councillor in his first ever general election was one of the big surprises during counting for the three-seat Limerick constituency on Saturday.
Oâ€™Donovan will now represent county Limerick in the 31st Dail alongside party colleague, Dan Neville, and Fianna Failâ€™s Niall Collins.
All three were elected on the fourth count at the University Arena just after 9.30pm, ahead of Labourâ€™s James Heffernan. Former IFA president and Independent candidate, John Dillon, was eliminated on the third count while the third member of the Fine Gael ticket, city-based solicitor Cllr Bill Oâ€™Donnell, was eliminated on the second count.
Speaking amid the jubilant scenes among his supporters moments after his election, an emotional Cllr Oâ€™Donovan thanked his parents, and in particular his father, who has been ill.
â€œIâ€™m a bit emotional really because Iâ€™d loved to have had my father here and my mother, and unfortunately they canâ€™t. I owe an awful lot to my parents. I canâ€™t thank them enough. Iâ€™m stunned, considering that half my electoral area is in a different constituency. In fairness, the east Limerick people took to me from the start.
â€œThey really gave me a massive boost along the way, and the south Limerick people to. I got votes in every box. Iâ€™m totally, absolutely flabbergasted.â€
Neville and Oâ€™Donovan both passed the quota of 11,261 votes following the distribution of Dillonâ€™s votes. Collins, who received the highest first-preference total in the county with 9,361 votes, was elected without reaching the quota.
Collins admitted that following Fianna Failâ€™s decimation in Fridayâ€™s poll, the task now falls on him and other surviving TDs to begin re-building the party from the ground up.
â€œWe were 14 years in government, and everything is cyclical. Thatâ€™s the natural order of things. Thereâ€™s highs and lows. Weâ€™re on a low today, and we have to accept that and move on.
â€œToday is Fine Gaelâ€™s day, and congratulations to them. Theyâ€™ve worked long and hard since 2002 to put themselves in the position they find themselves in today. Thatâ€™s something weâ€™ll have to set our eyes to now in Fianna Fail.â€
A total of 45,512 votes were cast in the new Limerick constituency, which stretches from the Tipperary border to just outside Newcastle West.