‘Another blank for Fianna Fáil as Fine Gael gain and Sinn Fein make a breakthrough’
This constituency was created before the 2007 general election and it formed the western part of the old five-seat Meath constituency. There have also been major Constituency Commission changes here since 2007. A population of 6,776 in the Kells area has been transferred out to Meath East. The number of seats remained the same with three TDs returned.
The Fine Gael vote was up 17 points and with 1.8 quotas it was on track for two seats. Outgoing deputy Damien English comfortably topped the poll, well clear of his nearest rivals and he went on to take the first seat on the third count. Newcomer Ray Butler was outside the frame on the first count, just 170 votes behind Labour’s Jenny McHugh but he won the transfer battle, in particular with the help of 55% of running mate Yore’s transfers. The third Fine Gael candidate Catherine Yore would be disappointed with her performance as she had been fancied for a seat and had to settle for her transfers electing her running mate.
The Labour vote was up 9 points and with half a quota Jenny McHugh was in the frame in third place on the first count. She was just ahead of Fine Gael’s Ray Butler but Fine Gael had too much of an advantage and she was duly overtaken and lost the battle for the final seat by a margin of 1,128 votes.
This was another poor performance by Fianna Fáil with its vote down a massive 33 points, their second largest loss of support in this election and they lost their two outgoing seats. Long-serving TD and senior Minister Noel Dempsey retired and Fianna Fáil decided to replace him with 2005 by-election candidate Shane Cassells. Outgoing deputy Johnny Brady did poorly and was well off the pace on the first count and never recovered. Cassells had a similar performance and this division of a depleted Fianna Fáil vote left them with no chance of a seat. This was another example of Fianna Fáil fielding too many candidates.
This was another breakthrough in this election for Sinn Féin with their vote up 6 points to 0.7 of a quota. Peadar Tóibín was in second place on the first count, well clear of his nearest rivals and he went on to win the second seat on the fifth and final count for an impressive performance. Joe Reilly had done well here for Sinn Féin in 2007 when he was the last candidate standing. His strong performance was a forerunner to Tóibín’s success in 2011.