Independent Candidates Record Byelection Surprises

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Anti-Austerity Alliance tops SF in Dublin SW; Independent beats FF in Roscommon-South Leitrim

Paul Murphy of the Anti-Austerity Alliance and Indpendent candidate Michael Fitzmaurice have recorded surprise wins in the Dublin South West and Roscommon-South Leitrim byelections.

Transfers decided both contests with Mr Murphy overcoming Cathal King (Sinn Féin) in Dublin and Mr Fitzmaurice reeling in Ivan Connaughton (Fianna Fáil) on the fifth count before winning on the seventh.

The ballot boxes opened at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght and at the Hyde Centre on the Athlone Road in Roscommon at about 9am.

In Dublin South West, the neck-and-neck battle between Mr King, the favourite throughout the campaign, and Mr Murphy was decided without a quota being reached.

The first count saw Mr King win 7,288 first preference votes ahead of Mr Murphy’s 6,540. After the seventh count the gap between the two had closed from 748 to 291 and Mr Murphy ultimately won on the eight count by 566 votes with a total of 9,565 to Mr King’s 8,999.

Mr Murphy said his victory signalled opposition to the water charges and the Government’s austerity policies.

“We saw the biggest demonstration in a long time against the charges today,’’ he said, in reference to a protest in Dublin.

Fianna Fáil’s John Lahart polled 2,077 first preferences; Fine Gael’s Cáit Keane took 2,110; Labour candidate Pamela Kearns received 2,043 and Mr McMahon won 2,142 first preferences.

Turnout was just shy of 35.5 per cent with a total valid poll of 24,024 out of an electorate of 70,400.

In Roscommon-South Leitrim, Mr Connaughton polled 7,334 first preferences to Mr Fitzmaurice’s 6,220 but the Independent proved the more transfer friendly.

Mr Fitzmaurice took a lead of 348 votes on the fifth count and that increased to 1,639 on the sixth count when the votes of Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny were distributed.

Following the distribution of the votes of Fine Gael’s Maura Hopkins, Mr Fitzmaurice was deemed elected with a total of 14,881 votes to Mr Connaughton’s 12,050.

Mr Kenny polled 5,906 first preferences, Ms Hopkins received 5,593 and Mr Kelly took 2,037.

The turnout in Roscommon-South Leitrim was 53.8 per cent with a total poll of 33,572 out of an electorate of 62,369. There were 262 spoiled votes.

Mr Fitzmaurice said he had a vision and wanted to be able to look his children in the eye and tell them he had done something.

People who were fed up of how politics works could stay at home shouting at the telly “but some of us have to lead the way and get up of our arse and do something,” he said.

A win in the byelection for the Fianna Fáil man was regarded as cruical for party leader Micheál Martin.

He said he did not feel under pressure following the result and would lead Fianna Fáil into the next general election. “There is no question about that,” he told reporters at the count centre in Roscommon.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the result sent a “a very clear message to Government that they have no mandate to do the type of things they are doing”.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny commended Ms Hopkins and her Fine Gael colleague Cáit Keane (Dublin South West) on their byelection performances.

“They have both made a real impact in their respective constituencies and their results show that they have great potential in the next general election,” Mr Kenny, the Fine Gael leader, said in a statement.

“I would like to thank everyone who supported our candidates in these bye-elections. It is extremely encouraging to see two strong candidates perform so well in what were very competitive campaigns.”

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