‘Fine Gael reclaim seat in former leader’s constituency’
There was a minor boundary revision here with a population of 1, 314 from the Kilpatrick and Newtown areas transferred to Kildare North.
This was a very predictable constituency in the context of 2011. Labour’s Jack Wall would be re-elected, Martin Heydon would reclaim a seat for Fine Gael after nine years, and one of the two Fianna Fail incumbents would survive the deluge.
So it proved. Martin Heydon took a third of the votes in the constituency, the highest share of any candidate in the country, and achieved Fine Gael’s second largest vote gain outside Dublin. This achieved of course in the constituency of the party’s former leader, Alan Dukes, who lost his seat in 2002.
Jack Wall, who unusually for a Labour TD has a strong GAA background, was elected on the first count for the first time in his career.
Fianna Fail duly took its one seat, the loser being Seán Power, a five-term veteran, and the victor Seán Ó Fearghaíl. Remarkably, Ó Fearghaíl had started out on the road before Power, having first stood in 1987 and losing on three further occasions before finally being elected in 2002.
There was almost a sting in the tail on this occasion, as independent councillor Paddy Kennedy from Newbridge nearly deprived Fianna Fail of any representation. Aided by over 1,000 votes from Heydon’s surplus, and by nearly 1,700 votes upon the elimination of fellow Newbridge candidate Jason Turner of Sinn Fein, he finished fewer than 1,000 votes behind Ó Fearghaíl on the seventh count.