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Sunday 24 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
# winners alright
Poll-toppers: The 10 candidates who secured the most votes this election
Independents, party leaders and long-time TDs are all in the mix.

IT WAS A weekend of either joy or misery for the 551 candidates who put themselves forward, as election 2016 saw the Irish people give a thumbs-down to the Labour/Fine Gael government.

There were many winners and losers on the day – with cabinet ministers and long-standing TDs left without a seat, while newbies got their first taste of national election success.

But while some candidates ground out a victory over the course of numerous counts, others topped the poll on the first, sometimes with a surplus of votes to get their running mate elected.

Let’s take a look at the 10 vote-toppers, who between them scored a remarkable 140,879 first-preference votes.

Michael Healy-Rae (Independent)

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The Kerry Independent, son of the late TD Jackie Healy-Rae, smashed the poll on Saturday – scoring a massive 20,378 first preference votes, a whopping 7,165 votes over the quota.

His surplus was enough to get his brother Danny Healy-Rae elected, who wasn’t far off the quota after the first count himself, with 9,991 first preference votes.

The Healy-Rae are much loved in their native constituency – and make no qualms about keeping their political vision local. As Danny said over the weekend:

There’s been a lot of talk of representing the nation and that we’re good for the nation, but the people of Kerry are part of the nation. And we’ll have to fight for those people and we make no apologies for that.

Stephen Donnelly (Social Democrats)

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The returning TD and co-leader of the Social Democrats had a great day, topping the poll in his Wicklow constituency and getting elected on the first count.

He secured an impressive 14,348 first-preferences, 2,880 over the quota.

It was a great day for his fellow leaders of the Social Democrats also, with Catherine Murphy topping the poll in Kildare North, scoring 11,108 first preferences; and Róisín Shortall securing the top spot in Dublin North-West, with 10,540 first preference votes.

Both were also elected on the first count.

Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fáil)

The Fianna Fáil incumbent has been a TD since 1997 and always scores high in his constituency of Cork North-Central.

This election was no different, with Kelleher securing a strong 14,286 first preference votes, beating the quota by over 4,000 votes in what was seen as a very strong showing from Fianna Fáil.

Denis Naughten (Independent)


A former member of Fine Gael, Naughten ran home in the first count in his constituency of Roscommon-Galway.

The Independent TD secured 13,936 first-preference votes, surpassing the quota by over 2,500.

The popular TD secured strong local support when he voted against the closure of the Roscommon County Hospital emergency department in 2011, leaving the Fine Gael party as a result.

Seán Fleming (Fianna Fáil)


Seán Fleming’s seat was never in doubt in the Laois constituency, and true to form the popular Fianna Fáil TD stormed home on the first count.

He secured 13,626 first-preference votes, beating the quota by nearly 4,000.

Enda Kenny (Fine Gael)

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While it was certainly a bad day for Fine Gael across the country, at least Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s seat was never in danger in Mayo, as he topped the poll and was elected on the first count.

Kenny received 13,318 first preferences, comfortably beating the quota by almost 600 votes.

His running-mate Michael Ring made it home in count 9; however, Fine Gael lost a seat in outgoing TD Michelle Mulherin, who was comfortably beaten on the final count by Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers.

In what was a Fine Gael stronghold (the party returned four TDs here in 2011 when the constituency was a five seater), the seat losses will be reflective of the movement away from Fine Gael this election.

Michael Lowry (Independent)


Another Independent with strong local support in his constituency is the former communications minister Michael Lowry.

Formerly a Fine Gael TD, Lowry has been an Independent TD for the past 20 years and regularly tops the poll in his constituency.

This election was no different, with the TD receiving 13,064 first preference votes, narrowly surpassing the quota by 72 votes and getting elected on the first count. 

Willie O’Dea (Fianna Fáil)


Popular TD Willie O’Dea, who was first elected in Limerick city in 1982, was expected to top the poll in his constituency, and he did so comprehensively – getting elected on the first count.

He secured a strong 12,999 first-preference votes, beating the quota by over 3,600.

Fellow Limerick stalwart, Finance Minister Michael Noonan, had a much tougher battle on his hands, only getting elected on the final count.

Charlie McConalogue (Fianna Fáil)


The fourth and final Fianna Fáil TD on the list, McConalogue topped the poll and was elected on the first count in his Donegal constituency.

The Fianna Fáil education spokesperson secured 12,533 first preferences, narrowly surpassing the quota by about 300 votes.

Heather Humphreys (Fine Gael)


The only female candidate to make the top 10 list, Arts Minister Humphreys easily made it home on the first count.

She secured 12,391 first-preference votes, topping the poll and beating the quota by over 500 in the Cavan-Monaghan constituency.

The popular TD had no problem keeping her seat, however her surplus wasn’t enough to get her running mate Joe O’Reilly over the line, and he lost out on the last count to two Fianna Fáil candidates.

Read: Champagne, selfies and a 40-car cavalcade in Healy-Rae victory tour

Read: Down to the wire: This Labour TD might still have a chance at a seat

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