The Fine Gael party in the Cashel Tipperary district bucked the trends - national and local - by winning three of the seven seats available on the new Tipperary County Council, following Friday’s election.
Poll topper, and long established public representative Michael Fitzgerald, led the way with a whopping first preference vote of 2,272 - almost 700 above the quota. He personally accounted for 44% of Fine Gael first preferences - the party sucked up 30% of first preferences in the district and claimed the third and fifth seats in the form of Councillor Mary Hanna Hourigan and Cllr John Crosse who had 1145 and 1054 first preferences respecitively, and both of whom were sitting councillors in South Tipperary prior to the election.
Sinn Fein’s Cllr Martin Browne claimed the second seat on the council with 1,339 first preferences and he got over the line on the fifth count to claim his position. A co-opted member of Cashel Town Council, the day was a big one for him as he had replaced his late brother Michael who died mid term having been the first Sinn Fein sitting councillor to greet Queen Elizabeth.
Cllr Browne was followed in count number eight by Independent Cllr Denis Leahy who claimed 1,157 first preferences, while Cllr Roger Kennedy (Fianna fail) came in on the 10th count to claim the sixth seat without reaching the quota. Cllr Tom Wood (Independent) did likewise in the 10th count having polled 884 first preferences.
Fine Gael also had Colm Taylor, the youngest candidate in the field, and Eoghan Lawrence in the race but both failed to make the cut having received 636 and 320 first preferences respectively.
Fianna Fail too had company for Roger Kennedy in the camp with Joe O’Connell and Brian Rafferty having a go. They polled 890 and 322 first preferences respectively and the party will perhaps ponder on the what-might-have-been had they opted for two canddiates, rather than three in a difficult seven seat district, especially since their only successful candidate came in on the last count.
Labour Party’s Mick Byrnes suffered as many of his colleagues in other areas did also with 676 first preferences proving insufficient to take a seat. Jacqui Finnan (Independent) polled 440 first preferences while June Moloney also Independent received 137 first preferences and John O’Connor (DDI) received 73 first preferences. Interestingly, the conbined first preference Independent vote amounted to 21% - 2691, which was not far off twice the quota of 1553 -and yet only one was elected, Cllr Denis Leahy.
There was a 58% turnout in the district - the lowest in Tipperary with a total poll of 12,560 and 140 of those being spoiled. Therefore the total valid poll amounted to 12,420.
Councillor Michael Fitzgerald was the first councillor to be elected to the new Tipperary County Council and received the second highest personal vote with 2,272 first preferences bested only by Fianna Fail’s Cllr Michael Smith who received 2,568. ONa percentage basis though Cllr Fitzgerald won out having polled 18% of first preferences in the district as opposed to 13.% for Cllr Smith in Thurles Roscrea.