It was more like ‘The Short Day of the Kid Gloves’ than ‘The Night of Long Knives’ as the Galway East count in New Inn nodded off to its inevitable conclusion shortly before 8pm.
Once the first count figures were confirmed in the early afternoon, most of the fighting had been done and all the battles were internal ones.
For the last few weeks, the dogs in the street had predicted that Galway East was going to break down on 1,1,1, basis.
Independent Sean Canney had been ‘flying it’ in the canvass and nationally the gale was blowing at the backs of the non-party brigade.
On nearly 8,500 first preferences, Canney was topping the poll by a country mile and was already in the uncatchable category by the time the tallies were in full swing.
After that, there had to be a seat each for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – that’s where the real battles had to be fought.
When Returning Officer, Derry Buckley – who gets full marks for clarity and efficiency – read out the first count, the winners and losers knew their fate.
Anne Rabbitte, the Portumna woman with strong roots in Abbeyknockmoy, was within touching distance of 7,000 votes and nearly 1,500 ahead of Colm Keaveney.
Already that was game, set and match to the woman who just over 18 months ago wasn’t even a councillor.
On the Blueshirt side of the house, former leader of the PDs, Ciaran Cannon had delivered a sterling performance to pull in 7,123 first preferences, crucially 649 ahead of his running mate Paul Connaughton.
For Connaughton, now on the very border of the new East Galway constituency, there was just nowhere he could find the votes to make up that gap.
Through the midst of all that inevitability, there was another woman delivering a real battle performance.
Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins, who had ran a very intensive campaign, had brought in 4,531 first preferences of just over 10% of the first preference vote on a day when her party languished at just 6.6%.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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.