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Couple who ran in the same constituency for different parties both get elected in dramatic final count

The two beat off competition from a Fine Gael candidate in what is traditionally a stronghold for FG.

A COUPLE WHO ran for election in the same constituency for different parties have both been elected in a dramatic final count. 

Holly Cairns, who ran for the Social Democrats, and Christopher O’Sullivan of Fianna Fáil, took the second and third seats in three-seater Cork South West in the early hours of this morning. 

O’Sullivan, who is the mayor of County Cork, had been in second place from the very start, behind Independent Michael Collins, and had looked set to take a seat throughout. 

Cairns, however, was behind Fine Gael candidate Tom Lombard, who saw his lead over her increase as the counts progressed. 

By the seventh count, Lombard was more than 2,000 votes ahead of Cairns going into the final count. 

However when more than 5,000 votes from Sinn Féin’s Paul Hayes were distributed, Cairns picked up just over 3,000 of them, while Lombard received just 393, giving her the third seat behind O’Sullivan. 

When the result came in just after 3.30am on Monday morning, it was the only count still going on in the country, with all the rest having finished or paused for the night. 

elected csw

It is the first time in more than 60 years that the constituency has not returned a Fine Gael TD, reflecting the party’s fortunes across the country. 

Cairns is a councillor for the Social Democrats who won her seat for the party in 2019 by just one vote. She is a farmer and a small business owner. 

Her partner Christopher O’Sullivan has been a councillor on Cork County Council for 13 years, having first been co-opted in 2007. 

He was elected as mayor of County Cork in 2019, and according to his profile on TheJournal.ie‘s candidate database, is the fourth member of his family to follow a career in politics. 

In a recent interview with The Echo about their plans to both run in the constituency, Cairns told the paper, “Obviously, we get on like a house on fire personally. Not so much politically.”

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