Pat Buckley and Thomas Gould elected in Cork as Sinn Féin surge continues

Pat Buckley was elected on the first count in Cork East.

Pat Buckley and Thomas Gould elected in Cork as Sinn Féin surge continues

Sinn Féin's Thomas Gould was elected on the first count with a huge surplus, picking up more than one-quarter of the first preferences in Cork North-Central.

The city councillor picked 13,811 of the first preferences, giving him a huge lead over any of the other candidates in the constituency. He exceeded the quota of 10,356 by 3,455 votes.

It came just an hour after Donnchadh O Laoghaire was elected in Cork South-Central, marking a hugely impressive day for the party in Cork.

"I've been on the road a long time in politics and this is very humbling for me," Mr Gould said, paying tribute to the team who knocked on doors "from Bishopstown to Carrignavar" in recent weeks.

"It is a good day to be in Sinn Fein. Mary Lou McDonald's leadership has been immense. People really admire her and listen to her.

"We have brought forward solutions on housing, homeless, healthcare and crime, and the pension age was a huge issue."

After the first count, Fianna Fáil TD Pádraig O'Sullivan will be optimistic about holding the seat he won in November's by-election. He has more than 8,000 first preferences, while the third seat could be won by Fine Gael's Colm Burke. The senator first ran for the Dail some three decades ago but looks like he might finally win a seat.

However, the fourth seat is all to play for with four candidates within 1,000 votes of each other.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry, Green candidate Oliver Moran, Independent Kenneth O'Flynn and Fianna Fáil's Tony Fitzgerald are all within touching distance of each other and the fallout from Gould's surplus will play a huge role in determining how this race goes.

If it falls to a city candidate, it could be Fitzgerald and O'Flynn to benefit. It is falls left, though, it could push Barry or Moran close.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin's Pat Buckley was elected on the first count with 12,587 first preferences, well over the 10.909 quota.

His surplus is now being counted and it could well have a bearing on who will fill the other three seats in this constituency.

The two FF candidates, Kevin O'Keeffe and James O'Connor, are almost neck and neck on 7,414 and 7,026 votes respectively. The other main contenders for the remaining seats are outgoing TDs Sean Sherlock (Lab) and David Stanton (FG) who got 6,610 and 6,143 respectively.

Sherlock may well benefit from the distribution of Buckley's votes, being regarded as the only other left-wing candidate who would have a chance of getting a seat.

When Pa O'Driscoll's (FG) vote is eventually distributed Stanton will get a boost. So, too, will James O'Connor and Kevin O'Keeffe when the FF-leaning Mary Linehan-Foley's votes are distributed.

O'Connor may do better of the two as he lives in the southern end of the constituency, just a couple of miles from Linehan-Foley.

The political pundits are predicting a very close battle with the possibility of Stanton, Sherlock and O'Keeffe fighting it out for the last two seats, as O'Connor may well get elected before any of them.

- Additional reporting Sean O'Riordan and Joel Slattery

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