The fourth most popular candidate in Galway West, based on first preference votes cast, did not get elected, but the seventh most popular candidate did, highlighting the importance of transfers under proportional representation single transferable vote (PR-STV).
Sinn Féin’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh was fourth after the first count with 5,755 first preferences but wasn’t elected. Catherine Connolly (Ind), who was fifth after the first count, leapfrogged Ó Clochartaigh and took the fourth seat; and Hildegarde Naughton (FG), who was seventh after the first count, through transfers, jumped ahead of Ó Clochartaigh and her party running mate John O’Mahony to take the fifth seat.
Naughton took 4,567 first preferences, 167 fewer than the sixth placed candidate, O’Mahony, and 1,188 fewer than Ó Clochartaigh but when the lowest placed candidates were eliminated, one by one, she was more transfer friendly and took the seat.
In a first-past-the-post scenario, as in England, Ó Clochartaigh would be a Dáil Deputy.
Under PR-STV, voters indicate the order of choice of their candidates by writing 1 in the box beside their preferred candidate. And if they wish voters, can write 2, 3, 4 and so on down the line to their next preferred candidates. This instructs the returning officer to transfer your vote to your second and subsequent choices if your first choice is elected or eliminated. The unpredictability of the destination of transfers of eliminated candidates’ votes is what makes election count so exciting.
The battle for transfers between Catherine Connolly (Ind) and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (SF) was fascinating – a game of cat and mouse.
Ó Clochartaigh polled 5,755 votes and Connolly took 4,877, which is a difference of 878. By the time all the counting was done, Connolly had not only bridged that gap but overtaken him: on the 14th and final count Connolly had 10,239 votes, some 2,162 more than Ó Clochartaigh’s 8,077.
Ó Clochartaigh got one more transfer than Connolly on the second count (33 v 32), when the three lowest candidates were eliminated (Tommy Roddy, Ruairi O’Neill and Patrick Feeney); and he got six more votes than her (202 v 196) when Anti-Austerity-Alliance candidate Tommy Holohan’s votes were distributed in the fourth count.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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.