Even those political anoraks who ‘live and breathe’ general elections are dreading the prospect of a repeat of 2011 when Galway West turned into the longest count in the country.
Back then, the count finally concluded in the middle of the following week having started the previous Saturday.
And given that there are 20 candidates chasing five seats, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Galway West is set for another marathon.
After the tallies are completed, a first count is not expected until 4pm on Saturday at the earliest – so with 20 candidates in the race, it could go very well into the early days of next week.
Political analysts are realistically putting the five seats between seven candidates and it would not be surprising if one of those in contention orders a recount at some stage.
That happened on the last occasion, with a total recount requested by Senator Fidelma Healy Eames. It did not alter the outcome as she failed to win a seat. But during the course of the recount, the procedure was hit by another delay when the Oranmore-based candidate took legal advice amid suggestions of missing votes. This led to a cessation of activities at the count centre in Leisureland.
It proved a nightmare for party activists and the media who were all ‘punch drunk’ by the time the final count results was revealed that Sean Kyne of Fine Gael had been elected to join Eamon O Cuiv (FF), Derek Nolan (Lab), Noel Grealish (Ind) and Brian Walsh (FG).
On this occasion the count for Galway West takes place in the Baily Allen Hall in NUIG while the count in Galway East is traditionally held in the community centre in New Inn.
The count for Roscommon-Galway will take place in the Hyde Centre beside Hyde Park in Roscommon town.
With just ten candidates in both the Galway East and Roscommon-Galway constituencies, it is expected that these counts will be completed by Sunday evening.
TALLIES: Half of boxes open in City West
With half of the boxes in Galway City West tallied, the state of play in the six-seater is:
Donal Lyons (Ind) 23%
Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) 14.75%
Niall McNelis (Lab) 11.89%
John Connolly (FF) 9.86%
Pearce Flannery (FG) 9.48%
Peter Keane (FF) 7.3%
John Crowley (Soc Dems) 6.3%
Clodagh Higgins (FG) 5.9%
Salthill and Taylor’s Hill boxes being tallied now
Left and right find middle ground
There is a tired old cliché about people singing from ‘the same hymn sheet’ – but despite their diverse political backgrounds, it could certainly be applied in the case of Galway city’s two new TDs.
Because Fine Gael’s Deputy Hildegarde Naughten and independent TD Catherine Connolly hold common ground when it comes to a lot of issues relating to Galway city.
For example, in the aftermath of the general election they both agreed that University Hospital Galway should be moved to a greenfield site at Merlin Park. They also articulated this view on the first day of the new Dail last week.
And, separately, they were both in favour of the provision of dedicated bus lanes throughout Galway city with the acceptance that there will be no outer bypass for at least another decade. Deputy Connolly believes that the current proposal is simply “a cul-de-sac” and should never have been progressed.
Left-leaning Independent TD Catherine Connolly and right-leaning Fine Gael TD, Hildegarde Naughton, both believe UHG is at saturation point and are committed to the development of a new public hospital at the larger, more accessible site east of the city.
This, along with the promotion of public transport initiatives to help end traffic chaos in the city, is one of the common policy objectives the two new women TDs share.
They are only the second and third women TDs ever in Galway West, following in the footsteps of former Fianna Fáil minister, Máire Geoghegan Quinn.
Fianna Fail attempts to woo Grealish again
Pressure is mounting on Galway West TD Noel Grealish to join Fianna Fail as the party attempts to be part of the next government.
The Fianna Fail organisation in the constituency are now convinced that Grealish may provide the party with the answer to winning a second seat in Galway West. And the organisation are disappointed that veteran TD Eamon O Cuiv has not delivered a second seat in the last two general elections. If Fianna Fail assume power, it is very unlikely that the Cornamona man will have a place at the front bench.
The party organisation in Galway West are now anxious that Grealish becomes part of their fabric and particularly as he is a proven vote-winner.
Grealish is part of an unofficial grouping in the Dail who are currently engaged with the two major parties with a view to forming a minority government.
The fact that the Carnmore man has been a TD since 2002, it is likely that he could be part of the front bench in the next government if he agrees to become part of the support that Fianna Fail require.
It was revealed last week that he had been approached by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to join up but he was not to be drawn on the issue.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.