Rejuvenated Kenny delivers best result in history

ENDA KENNY has steered his party to its best election result in history, more than doubling the number of Fine Gael seats since he became party leader after the 2002 general election.

The party narrowly missed out on the elusive overall majority but with more than 36% of first preference votes, it was last night on course to win at least 77 seats.

It secured a smaller share of the vote than in its previous best result in 1982 when Fine Gael won 70 seats with 42% of the first preference share.

But strict vote management this time around boosted seat numbers significantly and saw the party picking up unexpected seats in many constituencies.

Mr Kenny lead the way for his party’s success winning 17,472 first preference — the highest in the country — securing four out of five seats in his Mayo constituency.

His party colleague Michael Ring was also elected on the first count and with Kenny’s 5,000 surplus votes, both Michelle Mulherin and John O’Mahoney also got elected.

They picked up the second and third seats in many constituencies around the country that had previously been Fianna Fáil strong holds.

And at least 20 of the TDs in the new government party will be newcomers to the Dáil. In Carlow-Kilkenny where Fianna Fáil has always held three seats, effective vote management by Fine Gael’s Phil Hogan saw the party pick up three seats, with John Paul Phelan and chairman of the Cork County board, Pat Deering, getting in.

Fine Gael also won three of the five seats in Dublin South where banking expert Peter Mathews was elected along with Olivia Mitchell and Alan Shatter. In Dublin Mid-West, where the party hasn’t had a TD since the constituency was created, Fine Gael picked up two seats for its former Seanad leader, Frances Fitzgerald, and her running mate Derek Keating.

In a symbolic changing of the guard, Paschal Donohoe topped the poll in Dublin Central which had been dominated by Bertie Ahern and his Fianna Fáil operation for 30 years.

In Kildare South, the 32-year-old farmer and first-time candidate Martin Heydon topped the poll and won back the seat lost by Alan Dukes in 2002.

As Fine Gael stood poised to take office after 14 years in opposition, it also looked on course to take three out of the five seats in Wicklow.

Sitting TDs Andrew Doyle and Billy Timmins are likely to be joined by 24-year-old Simon Harris who would be the youngest TD in the Dáil.

Fine Gael did what no one thought was achievable by picking up three out of five seats in Cavan-Monaghan — something only Fianna Fáil did in the past — with three new candidates.

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