‘Red back on the map of the country’s most south-westerly constituency’
There were no chances to the boundaries of this constituency since 2007.
A constituency ever since 1923, Cork South West was represented by a Labour TD from then until 1981. Timothy J. Murphy carried the torch for over 25 years, was succeeded in 1949 by his son William (at 21 years and 29 days on polling day still the youngest TD ever), and in 1951 Michael Pat Murphy (no relation) won the seat that he held comfortably until he retired in 1981. Since then there had been a consistent pattern of 2 Fine Gael seats and 1 for Fianna Fail, broken only when Fianna Fail, gained a seat in 2002.
With both Fine Gael veterans Jim O’Keeffe (first elected 1977) and P. J. Sheehan (first elected 1981) standing down, and Labour having its best opportunity for 30 years to put some red back on the map of the country’s most south-westerly constituency, there was a good chance that Cork South West would return three brand new TDs. Labour candidate Senator Michael McCarthy duly ensured this. Despite a fairly modest increase in his first preference vote, he did well on transfers (nearly 2,200 from the elimination of the bottom seven candidates) and held off the Fianna Fail challenge by 600 votes.
Fine Gael was certain to hold its two seats, and nominated three candidates, who all polled well. Jim Daly from Skibbereen, more or less in the centre of the constituency, comfortably headed the poll, and it was Noel Harrington from Castletownbere who took the other seat, with 456 votes to spare over the third Fine Gael candidate, Kevin Murphy, when it mattered.
Fianna Fail was left to contemplate the wreckage of its campaign. Its two candidates won nearly 10,800 votes between them – over 4,000 more than Labour – yet neither was elected. When incumbent Christy O’Sullivan – a surprise winner in 2007, and still regarded by some in Fianna Fail as a blow-in as he had previously stood as an independent – was eliminated on the fourth count, only 57 per cent of his transfers went to his running mate Denis O’Donovan, who has contested every election since 1987 but was elected only once, in 2002.