Independent Michael Collins first elected in Cork South West

The outgoing independent TD from Schull swept through on 11,712 votes, easily exceeding the quota of 11,085.

Independent Michael Collins first elected in Cork South West

Michael Collins has been returned to Dáil Éireann having topped the poll in the first count in Cork South West, stating he will speak to anyone who wants to talk to him about the formation of the next government.

The outgoing independent TD from Schull swept through on 11,712 votes, easily exceeding the quota of 11,085.

The first count also puts Fianna Fáil's Cllr Christopher O'Sullivan in pole position to take the second seat after he secured 6,262 first preference votes, ahead of Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard, who received 5,865 first preferences.

However, among those in contention are Sinn Fein's Cllr Paul Hayes, with 4,777 first preferences, and Social Democrat Cllr Holly Cairns, in with a real chance of a seat after taking 4,696 first preferences.

The electorate in this sprawling three-seater increased by more than 5,000 compared with that in 2016 but turnout was down by 3% to 65%.

Michael Collins said he had received an "emphatic" vote from people in Cork South West and he would repay that faith.

"I have worked hard for the people of West Cork and they have returned that by giving me an emphatic vote tonight," he said.

As to any possible role in the formation of the next government he said: "I will sit down with anyone that wants to sit down.

My door is open. We will have to look at the issues that affect Cork South West.

He said the area had been "totally and utterly neglected" and that if no one wanted to speak with him about the formation of the next government, he would stay in opposition and "hold them severely to account".

He also had words for an old foe, outgoing Transport Minister Shane Ross.

"I think he wrecked rural Ireland and he was aided and abetted by two political parties," he said, adding that Mr Ross was now "on the scrapheap of Irish politics".

He and his brother, Cllr Danny Collins, were hoisted by supporters and will now return to Schull for the celebrations.

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