Fianna Fáil took 24.3 per cent of first preference votes in Galway West, up 3.8 per cent on their 2011 result – with sitting TD, Eamon Ó Cuív, topping the poll and increasing his vote by some 2,098 first preferences.
Fine Gael won 24 per cent of first preferences, down 9.7 on their last election result, but could still be in contention to take a second seat in the constituency, with John O’Mahony and Hildegarde Naughton battling it out to fill the highly contested final seat.
Also in contention for the seat is Trevor Ó Clochartaigh of Sinn Fein, taking 9 per cent of the first preference votes, increasing their share by 2.7 per cent since 2011.
Fine Gael’s coalition partner, Labour, yielded what is likely to be a hugely disappointing result for the party, dropping 6.7 percentage points to 5. The party’s only Galway TD, Derek Nolan, conceded defeat before the official first count was announced.
Independents took 26.5 per cent of first preferences and independent candidate, Catherine Connolly will have her eye firmly on the fifth and final seat as the count continues.
Elsewhere, the Green Party are up just under one per cent to 2.5 while the new kids on the block, the Social Democrats and Renua Ireland, achieved 5.4 and 1.5 per cent respectively.
AAA-PBP took 1.6 per cent while Direct Democracy Ireland achieved 0.2 per cent of first preference votes.
TALLIES: Half of boxes open in City West
With half of the boxes in Galway City West tallied, the state of play in the six-seater is:
Donal Lyons (Ind) 23%
Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) 14.75%
Niall McNelis (Lab) 11.89%
John Connolly (FF) 9.86%
Pearce Flannery (FG) 9.48%
Peter Keane (FF) 7.3%
John Crowley (Soc Dems) 6.3%
Clodagh Higgins (FG) 5.9%
Salthill and Taylor’s Hill boxes being tallied now
Left and right find middle ground
There is a tired old cliché about people singing from ‘the same hymn sheet’ – but despite their diverse political backgrounds, it could certainly be applied in the case of Galway city’s two new TDs.
Because Fine Gael’s Deputy Hildegarde Naughten and independent TD Catherine Connolly hold common ground when it comes to a lot of issues relating to Galway city.
For example, in the aftermath of the general election they both agreed that University Hospital Galway should be moved to a greenfield site at Merlin Park. They also articulated this view on the first day of the new Dail last week.
And, separately, they were both in favour of the provision of dedicated bus lanes throughout Galway city with the acceptance that there will be no outer bypass for at least another decade. Deputy Connolly believes that the current proposal is simply “a cul-de-sac” and should never have been progressed.
Left-leaning Independent TD Catherine Connolly and right-leaning Fine Gael TD, Hildegarde Naughton, both believe UHG is at saturation point and are committed to the development of a new public hospital at the larger, more accessible site east of the city.
This, along with the promotion of public transport initiatives to help end traffic chaos in the city, is one of the common policy objectives the two new women TDs share.
They are only the second and third women TDs ever in Galway West, following in the footsteps of former Fianna Fáil minister, Máire Geoghegan Quinn.
Fianna Fail attempts to woo Grealish again
Pressure is mounting on Galway West TD Noel Grealish to join Fianna Fail as the party attempts to be part of the next government.
The Fianna Fail organisation in the constituency are now convinced that Grealish may provide the party with the answer to winning a second seat in Galway West. And the organisation are disappointed that veteran TD Eamon O Cuiv has not delivered a second seat in the last two general elections. If Fianna Fail assume power, it is very unlikely that the Cornamona man will have a place at the front bench.
The party organisation in Galway West are now anxious that Grealish becomes part of their fabric and particularly as he is a proven vote-winner.
Grealish is part of an unofficial grouping in the Dail who are currently engaged with the two major parties with a view to forming a minority government.
The fact that the Carnmore man has been a TD since 2002, it is likely that he could be part of the front bench in the next government if he agrees to become part of the support that Fianna Fail require.
It was revealed last week that he had been approached by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to join up but he was not to be drawn on the issue.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.