FINE Gael’s Patrick O’Donovan has topped the poll on the first count in Limerick County with 9.228 votes. But he will have to wait until a later count to be elected, as he has fallen short of the quota of 11,523. .
On the first count also, Fianna Fail’s Niall Collins, with 8,436 votes, is on track to retain his seat but the fate of the third seat will be a dogfight with three candidates in very strong contention.
The big change in this election is the strong showing of Sinn Féin, whose candidate Séighin O’Ceallaigh is now a strong contender for the third seat. He has polled 6,916 first preference votes, ahead of Independent Richard O’Donoghue on 6,021 and Fine Gael’s Tom Neville on 5,810.
The second Fianna Fail candidate, Michael Collins polled well on 5,150 votes after a very short campaign, but is unlikely to be in the running for the third seat, although the elimination of a number of candidates from the west of the constituency could benefit him. The Green Party candidate, Claire Keating, clocked up 2,503 votes on her first outing on the hustings, a very creditable performance but not enough to put her in contention.
Five candidates are now being eliminated: Cristín Ní Mhaoldhomhnaigh, , John Dalton, Con Cremin, Robert O’Donnell and Conor O’Donoghue.
For Patrick O’Donovan, this election has been a huge, personal success. Against a background where the Fine Gael vote nationally took a hit, Patrick improved his personal vote to first preference votes, up from 2016 when he polled 8,479.
It was a gain of but it helped him top the poll, outstripping Fianna Fail’s Niall Collins this time out.
It was a particularly good performance given that he had Fianna Fail’s second candidate Michael Collins up vying directly against him for votes in his home base of Newcastle West.
But Patrick won that particular contest, if the tallies are to be believed with Patick tallying at 487 votes from the town’s five booths while Michael Collins polled 408.
The received wisdom in the run-up to Saturday’s election was that Patrick was vulnerable, given he was a Minister of State and with a high media profile of defending the government,
But in the event, it was his running mate, Tom Neville who has taken the hit. Tom’s first preference vote dropped to 5,810, down from 8,013 in 2016.
With Patrick O’Donovan secure, Fianna Fail’s Niall Collins’ seat is also secure, albeit on a lower first preference vote.
After the first count, Niall was on 8,436, down from 12,276 or 27.6% in 2016. This is largely due to running a second candidate, Michael Collins, but significantly, the two-candiates managed to increase the party’s share of first preferences .
Eliminations will now proceed and vote transfers will be crucial in the very tight scramble for the third seat.
First Count Result from Limerick County
Total electorate 72,165
Total poll l 46,499
Spoiled votes 409
Total valid poll 46,0190
Michael Collins FF 5,150
Niall Collins FF 8,436
Con Cremin Ind 373
John Dalton Renua 313
Clarie Keating, Green Party 2, 503
Tom Neville, Fine Gael 5,810
Cristín Ní Mhaoldhomhnaigh, National Party 224
Séighin O’Ceallaigh, Sinn Fein 6,916
Robert O’Donnell, Independent 402
Conor O’Donoghue, Aontú 714
Richard O’Donoghue, Independent 6,021
Patrick O’Donovan, Fine Gael 9,228