Pupils unseat TD in election lesson

A MOCK general election, by students in Cork East, produced a bag of surprises.

The “young vote” has tossed out long-standing TD, ex-minister of state Ned O’Keeffe, and handed the FF seat to the Greens.

Fine Gael, according to the poll, secured a second seat in the tight four-seater.

FG’s sitting TD David Stanton topped the poll, FF’s junior minister Michael Ahern held on to take the second seat, while FG Senator Paul Bradford — who lost his seat in the 2002 election — secured the third seat followed by first-time candidate Sarah Iremonger, of the Green Party. She was just 20 votes ahead of the normal poll-topping Mr O’Keeffe, who did not find favour with the students.

The election was organised by the fifth-year social, political and education class at the 700-plus pupil St Aloysius College in Carrigtwohill.

All students were invited to vote for the constituency’s nine candidates.

A total poll of 532 was recorded, with just four spoiled votes. The quota was set at 107.

The results from the school, which is located in the south of the constituency, showed that geographical factors played a vital role in how pupils voted.

Midleton-based David Stanton topped the poll on the first count, with a total of 144 votes.

Carrigtwohill-based Mr Ahern was elected on the second count with a total of 120 votes. Mr Bradford, who is based in Mourneabbey, received 122 votes on the third count, while Ms Iremonger, from Cobh, polled 120 votes on the fourth count.

A breakdown of the voting trends among students — some voting for the first time on May 24 — showed growing support for the Greens and Sinn Féin.

Teacher Eileen O’Mahony helped to organise the election.

“We felt it important to create an awareness among our students as to how important it is to vote and to vote properly down through the ballot card,” she said.

However, in the real election Ned O’Keeffe is expected to top the polls, with Mr Bradford recovering his FG seat, Sean Sherlock holding his father Joe’s, seat and Mr Ahern and Mr Stanton battling it out for the fourth seat.

Job losses are among the main issues in the huge constituency — including the closure of the sugar factory in Mallow, hundreds of redundancies at the Dairygold factory in Mitchelstown and the closure of FCI in Fermoy.

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