Michael Healy-Rae cements his place as Kerry's top vote-getter

Confirming his status as Kerry’s biggest vote-getter, tallies put him at topping the poll with 16,695 votes.

Michael Healy-Rae cements his place as Kerry's top vote-getter

Michael Healy-Rae is set to top the poll for the third time.

Confirming his status as Kerry’s biggest vote-getter, tallies put him at topping the poll with 16,695 votes.

He will be closely followed by Sinn Féin’s Pa Daly, the second candidate likely to be elected TD on the first count.

But the biggest loser of the night is expected to be Fianna Fáil’s John Brassil.

The outgoing TD is expected to be replaced by his running mate, Norma Foley, a former Tralee town mayor.

The party’s strategy of placing two candidates so closely together had clearly failed, with party insiders saying the strategy simply ‘diluted and dissolved’ Mr Brassil’s vote.

As of now, those expected to retain their seats are Michael Healy-Rae’s brother Danny and Brendan Griffin.

The Fine Gael Minister of State, who was noticeable by his absence at the count centre in Killarney’s Sports and Leisure Centre, had 10,431 votes by the first count.

For the first time in 87 years, the Labour Party had no candidate on the ballot paper in Kerry for a general election.

None of the other candidates got much of a look in.

The Green Party candidate, Cleo Murphy, polled a respectable 5.10%, which was higher than the share the party obtained at the last election in 2016.

The former journalist had been buoyed up by a TG4 poll that had Danny Healy-Rae in danger of losing his seat.

It stated he was only likely to get 4% of the vote, way down on the 13% he polled in 2016.

And while it suggested Danny would lose his seat, the same poll said the Green Party’s Cleo Murphy was up 9% of the vote, and well-placed to take a seat.

However, while Danny had appeared under threat, he looked much safer tonight, and on course to retain his seat.

Such was the strength of the Healy-Rae vote, that the two brothers had had to issue a map of Kerry to supporters.

This was to “politely suggest” that one half should vote for Michael and the other for Danny, but with the home village of Kilgarvan left open.

On his own results, TD Michael Healy-Rae said: “I am humbled people are entrusting me with their business, if you know what I mean.

“They want me to be their political spokesperson.

I look at it in the same way I have always looked at it whether I was in Kerry County Council or in the Dáil, I am elected to be a servant of the people.

“I am there to do the best that I can for them, their families and their communities and our county.

“Always remember to be a national politician, you have to be locally elected.

“I have been elected by the people of County Kerry and I am humbled by that.

“I am humbled by the result that seems to be there for both myself and my brother.

“The work continues from today.”

He said he wanted to remember a very special person.

I want to remember my late father Jackie Healy-Rae and my own mother for bringing me into the world and the electors in County Kerry and of course my election team.

He also revealed that one of his closest friends had died during the election and he is expected to attend his funeral.

On his election, Pa Daly - who outgoing TD Martin Ferris had helped canvass for - said: “Obviously I am delighted.

“We were hopeful rather than very confident going into the election.

Pa Daly celebrates. Picture: Domnick Walsh
Pa Daly celebrates. Picture: Domnick Walsh

“The feedback had been excellent on the door, and better than any other canvas I had ever done.”

He acknowledged that although “certain sections of the media” brought up The Troubles, it didn’t come up on the doorstep.

“We knew there was going to be an onslaught against us through certain sections of the media,” he said.

“But we were expecting it, so we just redoubled our efforts.

People were more concerned about health care, housing and services. They were more concerned about carrying the can for all the mistakes of the past.

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