The vote was a two-horse race from the outset between Fianna Fáil’s Ivan Connaughton and Independent Michael Fitzmaurice.
Mr Fitzmaurice’s mantra of standing by the people seemed to have struck a chord with the electorate, and they voted for him in their droves across the constituency with a 53% turnout.
The chairman of the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association scooped 6,220 first-preference votes in a constituency which has been riven by anti-Government sentiment.
Although Mr Connaughton polled an impressive 7,334 first preference votes and managed to stay ahead of Mr Fitzmaurice until the fifth count, the Independent eventually edged his way to victory on the seventh count, finishing on 14,881 votes, some 2,831 votes ahead of Mr Connaughton.
The distribution of Labour candidate John Kelly’s votes and Hospital Action Committee’s John McDermott’s votes in the fifth count proved to be the game-changer, with Mr Fitzmaurice securing 2,511 transfers, which ultimately pushed him to victory.
A clearly delighted Mr Fitzmaurice said: “You got to dig in deep and go for something.” He thanked the ordinary working people of Ireland who had made a statement and sent a “clear message up to Dublin, that all the promises and all the big cars that was coming down the N4 promising everything, they just didn’t believe it. For too long people have been wronged here in the west of Ireland and it has to change.
“When you have the big party machines it’s like the mouse and the elephant but I am a good big fellow — we took them on and thank God we got vindicated.”
He said he would “roll up his sleeves” and began work next Monday.
Mr Connaughton said he would contest the next general election despite his defeat.
“I was delighted to head the poll — it’s encouraging going into the next general election but we have to take stock of where we are,” he said.
Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan sounded the rallying cry in the Hyde Centre early on Saturday morning when he said: “We are not here to win, we’re here to take over!” The recently elected MEP noted that the electorate did not vote for a politician, “they voted for a human being”, in Mr Fitzmaurice.
Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny polled well, taking 17.4% of the vote with 5,906 first preferences and was not “overly disappointed” by his performance, he said.
Fine Gael’s Maura Hopkins polled 5,593 first-preference votes and her director of elections, Sports Minister Michael Ring, acknowledged it was the most difficult constituency in the country for Fine Gael with the hospital situation and anti-Government feeling.
Mr Kelly only managed to take 6.2% of the vote with 2,037 first preferences.
Mr McDermott took over 9% of the vote with 2,944 first preferences, polling well in the Roscommon Town area but failing to make any real impact across the constituency.
-Connaughton, Ivan (FF), 7,334
-Corcoran, Emmet (Ind), 1,262
-Crosby, Tom (Ind), 1,030
-Fitzmaurice, Michael(Ind), 6,220
-Guckian, Des (Ind), 902
-Hopkins, Maura (FG),5,593
-Kelly, John (Labour),2,037
-Kenny, Martin (Sinn Féin), 5,906
-McDermott, John(HAC) 2,944
-O’Boyle, Gerry (Ind), 82
-Total poll: 33,572
-Valid poll: 33,310