Michael Collins gets 'emphatic vote' in Cork South West

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

Michael Collins gets 'emphatic vote' in Cork South West

Michael Collins has raced back to Dail Éireann, the Independent TD returned in Cork South West on the first count, with all eyes on who will join him in Leinster House.

From the first tallies Collins looked all but assured of topping the poll, scoring well across the sprawling three-seat constituency. On the first count he polled 11,712 first preferences, easing past the quota in a constituency where turnout, at 65%, was down slightly on that of four years ago.

After being hoisted into the air - twice - by his jubilant supports, the Schull man said he was prepared to sit down to speak with anyone interested in forming the next government, but also said if he was in opposition he would hold that government to "severe account".

"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."

Fianna Fáil Cllr and current Cork Mayor Christopher O'Sullivan was in second place with 6,262 first preferences, making it likely he will take the second seat.

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard was in third on the first count, but the Fine Gael vote suffered compared with four years ago while Sinn Fein's Cllr Paul Hayes added more than a 1,000 to the first count haul of his party nominee four years ago.

That put him in contention for the third seat, alongside Social Democrats Cllr Holly Cairns, looking to repeat her last gasp escapades last year when she surpassed all expectations to take a County Council seat.

Her first preference total of 4,696 meant she also had a chance of taking the third seat here, particularly given her transfer-friendly appeal across the constituency. It all comes down to those transfers; one school of thought had the gap of 700 first preferences between Hayes and outgoing Fianna Fail TD Margaret Murphy O'Mahony as maybe working in Lombard's favour, but as the count ground on, it was all to play for.

The biggest beneficiaries of Collins's surplus were Christopher O'Sullivan, who received 138, Holly Cairns, who received 112 votes, and Hayes, who received 104. The three candidates with the lowest total votes were then excluded, with count three moving to redistribute 1,001 votes.

It pushed O'Sullivan closer to his goal and before his seat was confirmed he paid tribute to his team, particularly, he said, as he was a last minute addition to the party ticket.

Another unusual aspect to the race was that both he and Cllr Cairns were in contention for seats here - despite both being desperately keen to avoid any distractions from the task in hand, the fact that they are in a relationship added another layer of interest to this constituency battle

As the clock ticked on, the question was whether or when O'Sullivan's seat would be confirmed and who would take the third - Lombard, Hayes, or Cairns.

That was to be decided, but it is unquestionably Collins Country.

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