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A hug between Stokes and Byrne after one of the recounts Aontú
The Final Countdown

All seats filled in every council as Newbridge completes marathon count

Sinn Féin’s James Stokes and Aontú’s Melissa Byrne finished with just two votes between them in Kildare.

LAST UPDATE | 12 Jun

ALL SEATS IN every council have been filled as Newbridge has elected its three councillors after its marathon count.

Fianna Fáil’s Noel Heavey and Rob Power and Independent Tom McDonnell have become the last councillors to be elected in the country.

Earlier, the fourth recount in Newbridge LEA was accepted, with Aontú’s Melissa Byrne excluded after receiving two votes fewer than Sinn Féin’s James Stokes. McDonnell, an anti-immigration candidate, then received 260 transfer votes from Byrne.

No candidate reached the 1,663-vote quota, although Heavey was just one vote away. As none of the candidates received enough votes from the distribution of Byrne’s, the remaining were elected.

The count in Kildare lasted for five days and saw four recounts take place as Byrne, Stokes and McDonnell battled for the third seat. The fourth recount was granted by the returning officer as there was just one vote between two of the candidates.

Byrne was shy just one vote of Sinn Féin’s James Stokes with 1,098 and 1,099 votes, respectively.

Recounts

None of the previous three recounts returned the same result with Byrne and Stokes either drawing or continuing to have one vote between them – in some cases Stokes ahead of Byrne and vice versa. 

Sinn Féin’s Stokes requested the third recount, which finished up last night after he and Byrne were deemed to have the same number of votes – in that instance, Stokes lost out due to having fewer first preference votes. 

On the very first count, Aontú’s Byrne took the spot with 1,101 votes to Stokes 1,100 but after the first recount on Monday night the positions were reversed. 

Speaking to The Journal, One Aontú source said it was very nerve-wrecking but that there was a real sense of unity between the Sinn Féin and Aontú camps.

They said earlier: “We’re feeling equally sorry for each other. We’re all sharing food and cigarettes. It was Melissa’s birthday on the first recount, her first cousin flew over from Belgium to vote for her – we are very glad he did.”

Each candidate is entitled to request one recount each, beyond that it is at the discretion of the returning officer and recounts are granted on a case-by-case basis. 

It had been expected the results of the fourth recount would be available at around 2pm this afternoon, however, they were not announced until after 6pm. 

Stokes, a member of the Traveller Community is a first-time candidate and at 18 years of age is Sinn Féin’s youngest candidate in this election.

Earlier this year, he told the Irish Independent that he was inspired to seek election by his late grandfather’s activism.

Byrne, also a first-time candidate at 25 years of age, was unanimously selected by her party earlier this year to contest the election. 

A Maynooth University graduate she is currently an outreach officer for ‘Students for Life’, which describes itself as a non-profit pro-life organisation. 

You can see a list of all councillors elected on our election tracker here

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