Doyle makes agriculture portfolio pitch as count ends

JOSTLING for ministerial positions in the new government has begun with Fine Gael’s Andrew Doyle making his pitch for the agriculture portfolio.

Mr Doyle, a farmer who was the party’s spokesman on agriculture, said he had firm ideas of what he would like to achieve if given the role in the new administration.

“It’s in my gene pool. I would be passionate about it. I’d have a certain amount of trepidation about it but I would love the challenge. I could manage it and I know what it is I would like to achieve with it.

“I see the potential in our greatest, national, indigenous industry. There is a big role it could play in the economic recovery. It’s not the only answer and it should not be overburdened with expectations but we need to play to our strengths and agriculture is one of them,” he said,

Mr Doyle, 50, who was first elected to the Dáil in 2007, topped the poll in Wicklow but was only elected on the 16th count after a dramatic count that didn’t end until 3.20am yesterday morning.

He and running mates, outgoing TD Billy Timmins and newcomer Simon Harris, all secured seats in the final hours, followed by Labour’s Anne Ferris.

But the final seat was only decided after Sinn Féin Cllr John Brady was denied a request for a recount. Mr Brady trailed eventual winner, Independent Stephen Donnelly, by 112 votes after the 19th count and asked for a full recount but returning officer Patricia Casey agreed only to a recount of counts 14-19.

She had already carried out a recheck of votes for candidates remaining at the 13th count after a request by outgoing Fianna Fáil junior minister Dick Roche who lost his seat in the 13th.

Mr Roche had requested a full recount but accepted the findings of the recheck that a recount would not improve his chances.

Mr Brady, who had a greater first preference share than Mr Donnelly, wanted a full recount and further scrutiny of the votes of the 12 Independents eliminated before the 13th count, thought more likely to have given him transfers. Ms Casey announced the limited recount would begin at 3pm yesterday and Mr Brady and his campaign agent were left to shout from behind the barriers of the count enclosure that they would only accept a full recount.

When Ms Casey denied their appeals, they withdrew their request entirely. “It’s a full count or nothing,” said Mr Brady. He said afterwards he was disappointed but determined Sinn Féin would continue to build up the party’s base in the constituency. “We roll up our sleeves now and get back to work for the people of Wicklow.”

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