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Sinn Féin's Paul Donnelly celebrates after topping the poll ahead of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Sinn Féin's Paul Donnelly celebrates after topping the poll ahead of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Image: PA

The Sinn Féin candidates that came out of the blue to top the polls

We knew Sinn Féin would make gains in this election – but even still, some candidates had surprising surges in their areas.
Feb 9th 2020, 8:23 PM 46,655 73

OPINION POLLS INDICATED that Sinn Féin were on the up as we approached polling day in this general election – but the depth of the vote for the party has been unprecedented, even after political experts recalibrated their predictions based on the surge in support.

Sinn Féin candidates have gotten double the quota on the first count in some areas, and won seats in constituencies where the party had not been in contention before now. 

Let’s start with the Sinn Féin candidate who beat Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to the top of the poll in Dublin West – the first time an outgoing Taoiseach has not topped the poll in his own area.

With a quota of 8,726, Sinn Féin’s Paul Donnelly topped the poll and was elected on the first count, while Leo Varadkar got 8,478 first-preference votes, meaning he wasn’t elected on the first, second or third count.

In Clare, Fianna Fáil’s incumbent candidate Timmy Dooley was expected to top the poll, with his running mate and Clare mayor Cathal Crowe coming second.

But in one of the biggest shocks of the election, Sinn Féin’s candidate Violet-Anne Wynne, who had barely been mentioned as being in the running in Clare, even after the favourable results for Sinn Féin in the opinion polls, is going to come first overall, winning 8,692 first preference votes. A vote is expected there shortly.

The second TD to be elected to the 33rd Dáil is Sinn Féin local councillor Johnny Guirke, who stood in Meath West with 12,652 first preference votes.

The councillor beat three outgoing TDs – Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín, Minister of State for Housing Damien English, and Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on local government Shane Cassells – to top the poll.

The Meath councillor was the first to be elected to that council in 2014, too. 

A Wikipedia page was created for the TD today.

In Dublin Bay North, an area with Fine Gael minister Richard Bruton and Charlie Haughey’s son Sean Haughey, Sinn Féin candidate Denise Mitchell has topped the poll, winning double the quota and 30% of first preferences (over 21,000 votes in total).

In Tipperary, Sinn Féin Martin Browne is likely to get a seat – despite  having lost his seat as a councillor last year.

Sinn Féin has not had a candidate in serious contention for a seat in the constituency in nearly 100 years.

In 1992, its Tipperary North candidate got 382 first preference votes; in Tipperary South their candidate got 205 votes.

In the 2011 election the Tipp North candidate Séamus Morris got 6.3% of the vote; in Tipp South that vote share was 4.5%.

Martin Browne is now polling at 12%, and is likely to come in second place behind Michael Lowry. The incumbent independent candidate Mattie McGrath is on 11%, just ahead of Jackie Cahill of Fianna Fáil and Alan Kelly of Labour, who are on 9% each.

It’s a similar story in Wexford with Johnny Mythen from Enniscorthy. Mythen, a former ESB worker, also lost his council seat in the local election – and has won a quota and a half worth of votes in today’s count. 

His over 18,000 first preference votes compare to just 818 he got in the local elections when he lost his seat. That general election result is equal to double the number of votes Labour leader Brendan Howlin got (9,223).

In Mayo, Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s old constituency, the divide in the four-seater has been two Fine Gael TDs and two Fianna Fáil TDs – and that was largely expected to stay the same in this election. 

With Fine Gael’s Michael Ring coming out top after the first count, winning 14,796 votes, the surprise has been the candidate in second place: Sinn Féin senator Rose Conway-Walsh just behind him on 14,633 votes, and also elected. 

In the 2011 election, conway Walsh won 3% of the vote share; in 2016 she won 10% of the vote – now she’s secured 22% of the first-preference vote.

Although Dara Calleary will be elected it seems, on 9,163 out of a quota of around 12,800, his running mate Lisa Chambers will be battling it out to keep her seat.

In Limerick City, Sinn Féin’s employment spokesperson Maurice Quinlivan has beaten usual poll-topper Willie O’Dea to the top of the poll-podium, securing 11,000 first preference votes. He won 3,711 votes in 2011 and 5,894 votes in 2016.

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Gráinne Ní Aodha

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