Political Shift in City South

Sinn Fein’s John Hearne after his election on the 1st Count.

Sinn Fein’s John Hearne after his election on the 1st Count.

Sinn Féin doubles presence, Labour wiped out

Sinn Féin’s political presence in City South doubled last weekend, with the party securing the first and second seat in the area – including the party’s first female councillor in Waterford. Fianna Fáil managed to regain the seat lost in 2009, two Independent candidates were returned and Fine Gael’s John Cummins held on to his seat. Labour’s representation in the area, however, was wiped out: Just before 7.30pm on Saturday, John Hearne was first past the post with 1347 in first preferences, a massive increase on the 590 votes received by his party colleague David Cullinane in the same area back in 2009. He was elated with the support: “to be in the parish you love, with the people you love and to receive that kind of a vote, it’s just brilliant.” The majority of Hearne’s redistributed transfers – 171 votes – went to his running mate, Breda Brennan, who became the new Council’s first female representative when she was elected on Sunday morning, on the 8th count. “Breda was a great candidate”, added Hearne. “The worry I had was that she was so good candidate, she might outpoll me. But looking at the figures, we probably could have taken a third candidate in. With two of us working full-time on the ground, which is the way Sinn Féin works, we will continue to advance and the other parties must be terrified of that. It won’t be a part-time job for us.” During the day, Sinn Féin’s Senator David Cullinane hit Twitter suggesting Hearne should be Waterford’s next mayor. Hearne said the idea ‘wouldn’t bother him’. “You do what you’re told in the party. I go wherever the party send me, be it Gaza or the mayoralty. So when they sent me out to Gaza, off I went and if they tell me I’m going to be the next mayor of Waterford, I’ll have no problem with that either.” The race to fill City South’s six seats ran throughout Saturday night, before ending at 1pm on Sunday. Tramore-based Independent Eddie Walsh polled worst in the area, with 70 first preferences and he was eliminated on the second count. Next to go was DDI candidate Gary Hogan. He was followed by Independents Keith Nolan, David O’Brien, Donal Barry, the majority of whose transfers went to Independent and Sinn Féin candidates. Former Fianna Fáil councillor Tom Murphy, who ran as an Independent, polled a healthy 467 votes but he failed to pick up the necessary transfers to catch up and he was eliminated in the 7th count. A significant 122 of his transfers went to fellow Independent Cha O’Neill and a further 71 to Sean Reinhardt, suggesting the strong preference for Independent representation in City South. Fianna Fail’s Jason Murphy clearly benefited from Tom Murphy’s previous connection to Fianna Fáil, receiving 64 of the latter’s transfers. Fine Gael’s John Cummins, the city’s outgoing mayor, built upon his 539 first preferences in 2009, receiving 780 votes this time out. He continued to pick up transfers throughout the counts and made the quota on the 10th count. Seamus Ryan’s 989 first preferences back in 2009 plummeted to 578 votes last Friday and the long-serving Labour councillor was eliminated in the 9th count. Ryan was dignified in defeat, acknowledging the many people who had voted for him based on his own track record, rather than the decisions made by the party. “I want to thank all those who did come out and vote for me, I think that’s important. When you consider what has happened to the Labour Party all around the country, 578 is a respectable vote. Unfortunately transfers didn’t come my way. Labour’s poor result was to be expected. We’ve had to take some very tough decisions in Government. Maybe some of them could have been taken differently. But, we are where we are and have to take stock as a party, both locally and nationally and try to build again. I don’t think it’s a question of new leadership, I think it’s a case of new direction within the overall party. The three remaining seats were secured by Independents Cha O’Neill, Sean Reinhardt and Fianna Fáil’s Jason Murphy on the elimination of Seamus Ryan. Murphy, a fourth generation Fianna Fáil-er said he had worked hard on the campaign for 12 weeks and felt he really listened to what the people of City South had to say. “People were also ready to hear what I had to say. They want things to change and I’, delighted that they’ve selected me to represent them on this. Cha O’Neill increased his share of first preferences from 456 in 2009 to 615 last Friday, while Sean Reinhardt, who took over from John Halligan TD in 2011, polled a healthy 637 votes. “I started working back in 2011, that’s when my campaign started and I’ve been working for the community full time since then”, Reinhardt commented. “I had a great crew around me, I have to acknowledge them. I’ve always worked hard and I knew that that was going to get me over the line. I was always opposed to the amalgamation but now we have to work with it and I’ll continue to work hard on this new Council too.”

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