‘Fine Gael go close to winning a remarkable three out of four as Fianna Fáil hang on to a single seat’
There were no Constituency Commission boundary changes here since 2007 and it remained a four-seat constituency.
Fine Gael’s vote was up 7 points and with 1.9 quotas they were well in line for two seats and remarkably were even in contention for a third. James Bannon led the way with 9,129 first preferences and he went on to take the second seat on the sixth count. Outgoing senator Nicky McFadden and Councillor Peter Burke were within 500 votes of one another on the first count and were in a battle with Robert Troy of Fianna Fáil for the final two seats. In the end McFadden took the Athlone seat and Burke lost out to Troy.
Willie Penrose once again topped the poll as the Labour vote was up 9 points but with just 1.3 quotas on the first count the party was unlikely to improve on its single seat. Former Progressive Democrats’ deputy Mae Sexton did poorly, winning just 3,960 first preferences to leave her too far off the pace in seventh place. A more even division of the Labour vote would have given the party a better chance but Penrose’s poll topping performance put an end to that.
The Fianna Fáil vote was down 22 points and with just one quota, one seat was as much as the party could hope for. Its vote was divided among three candidates - the two outgoing deputies Mary O’Rourke and Peter Kelly, along with newcomer Robert Troy. They were not helped by the presence of former party colleague Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran on the ticket as he was just behind Kelly and outpolled O’Rourke with 3,707 first preferences. Troy was in sixth place ahead of his party colleagues on the first count and he retained his advantage throughout the count and went on to beat Fine Gael for the final seat. He was one of only three new deputies elected for Fianna Fail in this disastrous election.
The Sinn Fein vote doubled in this election and Paul Hogan was just outside the frame in fifth place on the first count with 0.4 quotas. He survived the various counts and was the last candidate eliminated with his transfers favouring fellow Athlone based McFadden.