IT will be another few hours – at least – before the official results of the first count in the general election in Kerry are known.
Counting of ballot papers at the Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre is well underway but it is a slow process and celebrations by those who already know they have won seats have been put on hold until later tonight.
There isn’t a parking space to be found within half a mile of the count centre – despite a shuttle bus running to and from Killarney town – as party workers, canvass teams and political anoraks have flocked to watch the count progress.
Although an official count is not likely to be announced until after 8 o’clock, at this stage the result is almost a foregone conclusion with outgoing Fianna Fail TD John Brassil conceding earlier in the day that it will require a miracle for him to stage a comeback.
According to the normally spot-on tally figures, Michael Healy-Rae is again one of the top vote winners in the county with a storming 16,695 first preference showing. His vote is down by around 3,500 on the 2016 election but it’s still well above the quota which is likely to be close to 13,000.
It was a super performance also by Sinn Fein’s Pa Daly who is on 15,640 in the tallies which is an astonishing debut general election performance by the Tralee solicitor.
He has benefited hugely from the national surge in support for his party and his first preference vote is over 600 more than retired TD Martin Ferris achieved four years ago.
Danny Healy-Rae is well over 1,000 votes down on his last performance but his 8,638 performance will see him elected, courtesy of an anticipated massive transfer from his younger brother’s surplus.
Despite his party taking a bit of a battering nationally, former Minister of State, Brendan Griffin, has increased his first preference vote quite significantly, rising from 9,674 in 2016 to an estimated 10,430 this time and he too is safe.
At this stage Fianna Fail’s Norma Foley looks a safe bet to take the fifth and final seat but it will be at the expense of her party colleague John Brassil who is real trouble.
Foley, who was added to the ticket by party headquarters, has polled 6,842 number one votes with Brassil pulling in 5,421 and the gap is likely to be too wide for the Ballyheigue pharmacist to make up, particularly with Foley expected to benefit from a favourable share of Pa Dal’s surplus given that they are both from Tralee town.
Brendan Griffin’s running mate, Mike Kennelly, polled just over 4,000 votes, the tally personnel say, and so too did Green Party candidate Cleo Murphy who can be quite pleased with her 4,000-plus performance which is likely to position her very favourably for the next local elections.
Cllr Norma Moriarty of Fianna Fail will be disappointed with her vote which, at an estimated 3,737, is about 600 down on her 2016 performance.
John Bowler (Irish Freedom Party): 436
John Brassil (Fianna Fáil): 5,421
Ted Cronin (Independent): 373
Pa Daly (Sinn Féin): 15,640
Norma Foley (Fianna Fáil): 6,842
Sonny Foran (Aontú:) 1,050
Brendan Griffin (Fine Gael): 10,430
Danny Healy-Rae (Independent): 8,638
Michael Healy-Rae (Independent): 16,695
Mike Kennelly (Fine Gael): 4,009
Norma Moriarty (Fianna Fáil): 3,737
Cleo Murphy (Green Party): 4,006
Sean O’Leary (Independent): 33
Pictures: Valerie O’Sullivan. Click on individual images for details
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