December 7, 2019
News Opinion

PÁIDÍ MANNING: Crunching the numbers – where Kilkenny local elections were won and lost

By PÁIDÍ MANNING

IN an election where Fine Gael was hammered by the opposition over rural broadband and the Children’s Hospital even before the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Maria Bailey put their feet in it (and out of it in Maria’s case), remarkably it was Sinn Féin who fell off the swing.

There are 24 seats on Kilkenny County Council: seven in Kilkenny City, six in Thomastown-Callan, six in Castlecomer and five in Piltown. Of these 24 seats, Fianna Fáil took 11, Fine Gael won nine, Labour two with one Green Party and an Independent.

In the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency, Sinn Féin now have one of the six council seats gained in 2014. Looking at the collapse of their vote and the loss of their public representatives on the ground, it’s hard to envisage Kathleen Funchion retaining her Dáil seat next time out.

The Green Party ran one candidate in Kilkenny and took one seat, with Malcolm Noonan being elected on the first count, behind Andrew McGuinness, with 1,485 first preferences. It’s possible this was a personal vote for Malcolm as opposed to the ‘Green Party wave’ but we’ll find that out in the General Election when he will deservedly be their candidate.

Labour did well to hold onto their two seats in Kilkenny and retained their two seats in Carlow too. They gave it a shot in the City too but missed out in what was a very crowded race.

One can’t help but notice the lack of a Labour Party candidate in the Thomastown-Callan district, an area which boasted a Labour Junior Minister and two strong Labour councillors prior to the 2014 election. The party’s General Election candidate Denis Hynes did very well to take a seat following Maurice Shorthall’s retirement, polling 1098 first preference votes, and he now has a platform to build on ahead of his Dáil run.

People Before Profit’s Stephanie O’Hanlon took 231 votes in the City and was eliminated early on. Her party colleague Adrienne Wallace took a seat on Carlow County Council and will be a candidate in the next General Election. Like Denis Hynes, she’ll be looking to build her profile and challenge for Kathleen Funchion’s seat.

The clear winners of this election in Kilkenny are Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael who hold 20 of the 24 council seats between them. Out of the 38,664 valid votes cast in the entire county, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael took 28,295 (73%) of them on the first count. Fianna Fáil outpolled Fine Gael in three of the four districts, with Piltown being the exception. The incumbent councillors from these two parties have worked hard to cement their place, while their new councillors (Cullen, Lyons and Delaney) ran impressive campaigns and will be hard to shift next time out.

Fianna Fáil took 15,895 first preferences (41%) of the total valid poll while Fine Gael took 12,409 (32%). Sinn Féin took 2,458 (6.3%) first preferences across the county while Labour took 2,865 (7.4%). There were 3,270 (8.4%) votes for the 11 Independent candidates across Kilkenny, with Breda Gardner (821) and Eugene McGuinness (826) making up half of that Independent vote.

Based on the Independent performance in this election, I wouldn’t expect to see an Independent TD in Carlow Kilkenny any time soon.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will be aiming for three seats in the General. As sure as night follows day, John McGuinness will be re-elected regardless of the opposition. Bobby Aylward and John Paul Phelan will follow suit. Pat Deering and Jennifer Murnane O’Connor will battle it out once again. Could there be room for two Carlow TDs?

Paidí’s prediction for General Election: 3FF, 2FG

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