Another dramatic day ahead at Limerick count centre

Adam Teskey celebrates being re-elected in the Adare-Rathkeale district. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

WITH an opening count day of dramatic twists and turns behind us, and another one just about to break before us, an army of refreshed count staff, local and hopeful councillors, friends, family, spectators, reporters, and political junkies are making their way into the count centre at the Limerick Racecourse ready to get off to the races once more.

Yesterday was a high-octane political thrill ride with early tallies keeping pundits and politicians alike guessing as to which shape local government is going to take for the next five years.

Early, but unofficial, tallies in the historic mayoral elections are putting former Finance Department general secretary John Moran (IND) as the frontrunner in proceedings (with 24 per cent of the vote), just ahead of fellow Independent Helen O’Donnell (16 per cent) and controversial Fianna Fáil candidate Dee Ryan (14 per cent).

The race is far from run at Limerick Racecourse, of course, because the official count will take place only after the 40 seats on Limerick City and County Council are filled. It is expected the historic count will begin first thing on Monday morning.

One thing is for sure however, and that’s the fact that it’s going to be a dog fight to the finish to fill council seats, with each of the six districts having already returned only a first count.

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How it all shook out

With just one quarter (11) of the council’s 40 seat’s filled as the count centre shut up shop last night, and 80 candidates left without a seat, there will be tension aplenty in the Patrickswell racing track.

10 of the 11 elected yesterday were already sitting councillors re-elected to their council seat.

In Adare-Rathkeale poll topper Stephen Keary took home a seat, with Fine Gael party colleague Adam Teskey.

Cllr Teskey told the Limerick Post that it was a “proud day for me and my family”, while cancer-survivor Cllr Keary said he was “over the moon”.

Brigid Teefy celebrates being re-elected to Limerick City and County Council as a poll topper in the Cappamore-Kilmallock district. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

In Cappamore-Kilmallock, Independent councillor Brigid Teefy took the top vote, and potentially the best dressed prize, decked in a bright pink suit. She was joined by Councillor Martin Ryan (FF), who also made it past the 2,053 quota in the district.

Cllr Ryan said he drew inspiration in running from family members who faced illness “and fought the good fight”. His mother Brigid kissed him on the cheek as he was returned to office.

Newcastle West saw half of its six seats filled on the first round, with sitting councillors Jerome Scanlan (IND), Liam Galvin (FG), and Michael Collins (FF) all re-taking their seats.

For Fine Gael man Galvin, it marked a fifth election success. Thinking of his late father on his big day, he said: “I like to think he is looking down and that he’s proud of me.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Collins said he has had “personal difficulties with my health in the last two years, so it was challenging coming back, but I had a great team of supporters and family behind me”.

Poll topper Jerome Scanlan retired early for the night and got the news from the comfort of home.

Poll topper Catherine Slattery took home her seat once again in City East. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

Turning to the city, Catherine Slattery (FF) took the top vote in City East. A force in a red suit, Cllr Slattery said the result was “just unbelievable” and that she was “so honoured and thankful to all of those who voted for me”.

She is joined in the seven-seater constituency by Fine Gael’s Peter Doyle, the only candidate to be elected so far who is not already a sitting councillor.

City West’s first count saw Daniel Butler breeze home with 2,233 votes – easily passing the 1,520 quota. It will come as good news to the Fine Gael man, who is trailing in the early and unofficial mayoral tally.

Cllr Butler was joined in election by Deputy Mayor Dan McSweeney (FG).

Deputy Mayor Dan McSweeney celebrates being re-elected in City West. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

Nobody was elected in the first count from City North, however mayoral candidates Frankie Daly (IND) and Conor Sheehan are close to the district’s 1,594 quota and are expected to pass on the second count.

‘We stupidly believe we know what elections are about’

Elsewhere across the exciting first day of the count, Labour legend and tally veteran Joe Kemmy – brother of the late great Jim Kemmy – made an early prediction for John Moran to take home the mayor’s chain after the count has finished on Monday or Tuesday.

Having served at every election since 1974, the 80-year-old count veteran told the Limerick Post that every election still throws up surprises for him.

“We stupidly believe we know what elections are about, but we don’t – the public decide,” he told the Limerick Post at the count centre in Limerick Racecourse.

Joe Kemmy with Labour’s mayoral candidate Cllr Conor Sheehan and former minister Jan O’Sullivan. Photo: Bernie English.

“Take today (Saturday) – some candidates who were expected to do well didn’t, and some who were not did. Now, the least experienced candidate – John Moran – is likely to be our mayor. The public decided that.”

With it all left to play for, and 30 council seats expected to be filled before the count staff get to go home to their families, stay tuned to the Limerick Post for more as it unfolds.