Three elected on Count Day 1 in Wicklow By Ian Colgan
Day one at the Wicklow count centre, in the Shoreline Leisure Centre in Greystones, saw three of the five seats filled. Stephen Donnelly (SD) was elected on the first count, exceeding the 11,468 quota by 2,880 votes.
In a climactic finish to the day’s proceedings, John Brady (SF) and Simon Harris (FG) then both got over the line at the same time after Donnelly’s surplus votes were distributed. Brady received 338 of Donnelly’s surplus, bringing his total to 11,489, while Harris received 649, bringing his total to 11,468 – remarkably hitting the quota exactly.
Donnelly was the success story in Wicklow, emerging as the frontrunner early in the day and maintaining about 21% of the vote as the boxes were tallied. What was also clear from the first few dozen boxes tallied was that the next two seats would go to Brady and Harris. After all of the 180 boxes were tallied, Brady had 16% (10,822 votes), and Harris 15% (10,401 votes), rendering the filling of the 2nd and 3rd seats a mere formality.
What’s less clear after the first day is who will take the final two seats, with the stage set for a brutal and protracted three-way dogfight on Sunday between Pat Casey (FF), Andrew Doyle (FG) and Billy Timmins (RENUA), who are all far from reaching the quota. After the distribution of Donnelly’s surplus votes, Casey is on 6,446, Doyle has 6,227 and Timmins has 5,737, meaning it could be late in the day before any of them get over the line.
The results have shown that Wicklow has kept faith in Fine Gael, with the Party’s three Wicklow candidates (Harris, Doyle and Avril Cronin) combining to take 27.5% of the votes cast. The story is very different for Labour, however, with Anne Ferris destined to lose her seat after taking a pummelling at the polls and receiving only 2,634 votes on the first count. The successes of Donnelly and Brady, meanwhile, also says a lot about how much the political mood has shifted amongst the Wicklow electorate in the last five years. In 2011 Donnelly and Brady were duking it out all the way to the 19th count for the last remaining seat, with Donnelly eventually edging Brady by a mere 112 votes. This time they came 1st and 2nd, their Dail seats virtually nailed down after the first 20 boxes were tallied.
Elsewhere, Cllr Joe Behan was the strongest performing Independent candidate, getting 3,070 votes on the first count and an additional 275 votes from Donnelly’s surplus. Green Party councillor Steven Matthews also got a healthy portion of Donnelly’s surplus (264), taking him to 1,614. Independent candidate Bob Kearns, former mayor of Wicklow Town, seems to have suffered from being the only candidate on the ballot sheet without a picture.
When the count resumes today (Sunday), both Bob Kearns (IND) and Katrina Hutchinson (DDI) will be eliminated, with the first count and ladling out of Donnelly’s surplus votes leaving them with only 120 and 217 votes respectively.