There were dramatic scenes last night as counting concluded in the local elections in Clare.
28 Council seats have been filled across the past two days, but the last of those only went to Shannon Councillor Gerry Flynn after a marathon recount in the Shannon electoral area.
There were extraordinary scenes towards the end of the Shannon count last night, which saw votes re-cheked twice in order to separate the last two candidates – sitting Independent Councillor Gerry Flynn and Fine Gael’s Garret McPhillips.
In the end, virtually nothing separated the pair – they both ended level on the same number of votes while vying for the last seat, with Flynn elected because he had the most first preferences.
McPhillips was magnanimous afterwards.
Councillor Gerry Flynn is one of five Independents on the new Clare County Council, the others being Mayor Michael Begley and PJ Ryan in the Shannon area, as well as Ian Lynch in Kilrush and Ann Norton in Ennis.
She, along with the other sitting Councillors in the county town, were all re-elected, meaning Mary Howard, Johnny Flynn, Paul Murphy, Clare Colleran Molloy and Pat Daly were returned along with first-time candidate, Fianna Fáil’s Mark Nestor.
Nestor is now Clare’s youngest Councillor, but there’s other young blood joining him as well.
All of the four Councillors in Ennistymon are new faces, with the poll there led by Shane Talty, who’s joined by Fianna Fáil’s Joe Killeen, Fine Gael’s Joe Garrihy and the Green’s Roisín Garvey.
Missing out, Lahinch Councillor Bill Slattery.
The five Killaloe Councillors were returned – Joe Cooney and Pat Burke of Fine Gael, along with Fianna Fáil’s, Tony O’Brien, Pat Hayes and Alan O’Callghan, who edged out Ger O’Halloran.
The West Clare ticket was completed by PJ Kelly, Bill Chambers and Cillian Murphy (all FF) and Gabriel Keating (FG) while in Shannon, the remaining candidates elected were Cathal Crowe, John Crowe, Pat McMahon and Sinn Féin’s Mike McKee.
He held onto his seat on an otherwise disappointing weekend for the party, including defeated Kilrush candidate Violet Ann Wynne.
The turnout in Clare this weekend was 55%, lower than in any other recent local election, although the turnout in the Ennistymon and Killaloe areas was over 60%.
Fianna Fáil candidates secured a combined 38.6% of the vote, compared to 31.7% for Fine Gael.
Independents polled 18%, and the Greens won nearly 5% of the vote despite only running 2 candidates.
The Greens and Sinn Féin have one seat each, there were five Independents elected along with 8 from Fine Gael.
Fianna Fáil increased its seat share to 13, but the party’s Director of Elections Gerry Reidy has played down suggestions that they might try to team up with Independents to wrest control of the Council, and end 15 years of power-sharing.