Lorraine Higgins has fought the good fight for two General Elections in a row . . . and she has come close to the dream of getting a Dáil seat.
Five years ago, she was just 132 votes behind Colm Keaveney when he took the Labour seat for Galway East, and this time around, she really was cycling into the gale . . . but still pedalled really hard.
“I knew the way the trends were going nationally that it was always going to be an uphill battle, but I worked really hard for the past five years in the constituency.
“I would have to say that during the canvass, I got a good reception on the doorsteps — I really did give it my very best shot, as did the fantastic team I had with me,” said Lorraine Higgins.
On a Saturday evening in New Inn, as she put a brave face on her elimination, she conceded that this would probably her last General Election.
“I have a few options to look at over the coming days and weeks and on an evening like this it’s best to have a think about things. But I don’t think that I’ll be contesting another General Election,” she said.
Before the Angelus bell had sounded on Saturday evening, Lorraine Higgins had 5,470 votes in her bundle before Returning Officer, Derry Buckley ‘called time’ on her challenge.
She had bucked the national trend of Labour getting a pasting in the polls but like a team that has fought bravely in a county final without winning, the disappointment of losing was written all over her face.
“I’m disappointed — yes — but do l have any regrets — no. I gave this my very best shot — I got a lot of support but just not enough,” said Lorraine Higgins.
TALLIES: Fine Gael will struggle to hold seat in City East
Fine Gael will struggle to hold its seat in Galway City East.
TALLIES: Cheevers looks set to take a seat in City East
With just over half the boxes tallied for Galway City East, Fianna Fáil’s Alan Cheevers looks set to take a seat, polling at over 17 per cent of first preferences.
With Mervue, Ballybane and Tirellan polling stations still to be tallied, Cheevers has taken the lead, with Independent councillor Terry O’Flaherty slipping into second with 16 per cent.
Incumbent Fianna Fáil councillor Mike Crowe is on 10.5 per cent, with Independent councillor Declan McDonnell on 8 per cent.
The Green’s Claire Hillery looks to be benefitting from the party’s nationwide jump in the polls, collecting 6.5 per cent of first preferences.
Sitting Councillors Noel Larkin (Ind), Mairéad Farrell (SF) and John Walsh (FG) are polling at 7.5 per cent, 5.7 per cent and 6.7 per cent respectively.
Also still in contention is the Social Democrats’ Owen Hanley with 6.6 per cent of the vote.
Deal demands better focus on rural Ireland initiatives
A concession on turf cutting, an examination of the decision to close rural Garda stations and post offices – as well as flood alleviation – are all on the shopping list for at least two of Galway’s independent TDs before any agreement to support a new Government.
Both Michael Fitzmaurice from Glinsk and Sean Canney from Tuam have been in discussions with the main parties since the general election with a view to securing their support.
They are part of the six-strong Independent Alliance which also includes Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Shane Ross – but top of their list concerns they have regarding rural Ireland.
It is understood that part of any deal would see some concession on the whole turf cutting controversy, while the issue of the closure of rural Garda Stations and rural post offices are also high on the agenda.
Deputy Canney said that so too was the recent flooding crisis and added that many farmers and individual householders were still suffering.
The Independent Alliance will hold further discussions with the parties and Deputy Canney emphasised that they were not demanding ministerial positions but just a better deal for rural Ireland.
They are demanding, however, that there will be a full Minister for Rural Affairs appointed once the new government is formed.
Deputy Canney added that it was being suggested that a TD in each constituency would report back to this department.