There are two new faces in the Galway East constituency – but the weekend poll also marked the end of an era as a political dynasty suffered election defeat.
Fianna Fail’s internal battle saw Anne Rabbitte from Portumna take the seat ahead of party colleague Colm Keaveney in Tuam.
And the writing was on the wall for the other political heavyweight battle from an early stage, with the realisation that Paul Connaughton from Mountbellew was in dire trouble – particularly as he was not receiving the vote in North Galway that he would have hoped for.
It was there that Sean Canney blitzed largely every other candidate in the field as he rode roughshod over North Galway.
While he is an independent candidate, he has very distinct Fianna Fail leanings and his brother in law Paddy McHugh was a staunch member of the party before failing to get selected for the 2002 election. McHugh went on to win an independent seat on the same occasion.
It was a great day for Anne Rabbitte of Fianna Fail who won a seat at her first attempt. She topped the poll in the Loughrea Municipal Council in 2014 and it is obvious that her appeal held firm.
Her intense canvass resulted in FF’s Colm Keaveney losing his seat and it is no secret that neither candidate got on all that well during the canvass. There were times when it was fraught between the Rabbitte and Keaveney camps.
In the end it was Rabbitte who succeeded and in the process she denied Keaveney the opportunity of retaining his seat – which was won on a Labour ticket back in 2011.
It was a bad day for the Connaughton family in Mountbellew who witnessed the seat they had held for more than 35 years lost to former
PD leader Ciaran Cannon.
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.