‘Gerry Adams tops the poll and Fianna Fáil draw another blank’
There were major Constituency Commission changes here since the 2007 election. The number of seats was increased from four to five, and the boundaries of the constituency was expanded to include a population of 17,333 transferring in from the areas of St Mary’s and Julianstown, previously in Meath East.
Seamus Kirk was automatically returned as the outgoing Ceann Comhairle, meaning only four of the five seats were contested in the election.
Fine Gael came close to winning a second seat here in 2007 but Mairead McGuinness failed to deliver. The party’s vote was up just two points in one of its poorer performances of this election but with 1.6 quotas they were in contention for two seats. Fergus O’Dowd was Fine Gael’s leading vote getter and was over the quota on the first count. His running mate, Louth Gaelic football manager Peter Fitzpatrick was in fourth place on the first count with a more modest 7,845 first preferences and he battled with Fianna Fáil for the final seat. Fitzpatrick’s first count lead was sufficient to withstand Carroll’s challenge.
The Labour vote was up 14 points and with one quota the party was well placed to regain the seat previously held by Michael Bell. Labour surprisingly ran two candidates and Gerald Nash was in third place on the first count with 8,718 and he went on to take the fourth seat on the penultimate count. Mary Moran was a late addition to the ticket and her 4,546 first preferences left her in seventh place on the first count but she was too far off the pace and was never in contention. Her transfers (57%) put Nash over the quota.
Outgoing TD Dermot Ahern was among the Fianna Fáil Ministers to retire ahead of this election. The Fianna Fáil vote was down a huge 26 points and with just 0.8 quotas spread over its two candidates the party struggled to retain even one seat. Outgoing Senator James Carroll was its leading candidate with 5,681 first preferences but this left him outside the frame on the first count with just 0.4 of a quota. Likewise his running mate Declan Breathnach with 5,177 and 0.4 of a quota was also outside the frame and out of contention. This was another case of Fianna Fáil running too many candidates, dividing their depressed vote and failing to win a seat.
There was much media attention on this constituency following the arrival of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams. Outgoing Sinn Fein deputy Arthur Morgan retired and Adams decided to enter southern politics. Adams topped the poll with the third largest number of first preferences (15,072) in this election, behind Enda Kenny (17,472) and Shane Ross (17,075). He was over the quota in the first count for an impressive performance with the Sinn Fein vote up 7 points on 2007.