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Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Micheal Lowry takes first seat in constituency where vote was nearly postponed

Voting almost didn’t go ahead following the death of independent candidate Marese Skeehan this week.

INDEPENDENT TD MICHEAL Lowry has been elected on the first count in Tipperary, where perhaps the only surprise so far has been that the vote went ahead at all. 

Lowry topped the poll with 14,802 votes, surpassing the quota by almost 1,200 votes.

No-one else was elected by the time counting stopped in Tipperary, with Sinn Féin’s Martin Browne (10,834 votes), Mattie McGrath (10,152 votes), Labour’s Alan Kelly (9,282 votes) and Fianna Fáil’s Jackie Cahill (9,114) in contention for the remaining four seats by the fourth count.

The Irexit Freedom Party’s Dolores Cahill, the Green Party’s Rob O’Donnell, and Fianna Fáil’s Imelda Goldsboro and Sandra Farrell have been eliminated.

Lowry topped the poll back in 2016 with 16.76% of the votes, followed by McGrath on 14.42%. 

This year, however, it likely that Browne, who failed to get a council seat last year, will take the second seat – Sinn Féin’s first in Tipperary in almost 100 years (1922). 

The Tipperary tally surprise is something that is playing out in many constituencies around the country, where Sinn Féin candidates are polling better than expected.

Tipperary became a five-seat constituency ahead of the 2016 election but voters almost didn’t go to the polls following the sudden death of candidate Marese Skeehan earlier this week. 

Skeehan, an independent candidate, was found dead in her home in Thurles on Monday. She received 182 first preference votes today, but was also eliminated.

Legislation states that if a candidate in any constituency dies after the final day for nominations, “the returning officer shall forthwith notify the Minister and the Clerk of the Dáil of the death of the candidate and at the same time, if notice of the poll has been given, he shall countermand the poll”.

In such a scenario, a fresh election must be held in the constituency where the candidate has died.

Independent candidates Michael Lowry, Mattie McGrath and Joe Hannigan, said they don’t want the vote to be postponed and sought legal advice on the matter. 

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy made a special order allowing the election to proceed on the same day as other constituencies. 

Counting is expected to resume in the constituency tomorrow.

With reporting from Stephen McDermott.

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