THE WEST’S AWAKE President Elect Michael D Higgins is pictured with his Mayo-born wife Sabina Coyne on Sunday evening at his homecoming in Galway. ?Pic: Philip Cloherty.
Michael D surges to victory in Mayo
IT was a quiet day at the count in the TF in Castlebar. A pattern emerged after the first ten boxes were opened and tallied and, incredibly, the percentages hardly fluctuated for the rest of the count. There was none of the excitement of the County Council count day, without doubt the most organic count of all in Irish politics, even far exceeding the excitement of General Election counts.
Michael D Higgins surged to victory in Mayo with just over 38 per cent of the first preference vote. It was a major endorsement for the man from up the road in Galway and whose wife Sabina Coyne comes from Ballindine.
Seán Gallagher polled strongly too, taking 25 per cent of the vote. Six weeks ago, such a figure would have looked impossible but his late surge in the polls (until the last three days when things went downhill again) saw him take one in four votes in Mayo.
Martin McGuinness, as he did in the vast bulk of constituencies, finished in third place, claiming 12 per cent of the vote.
There were expectations that Mayo native Mary Davis would have fared better in her native Mayo. At the end, she garnered just short of 10 per cent of the vote and had to settle for fourth place, her best placing in all of the constituencies.
It was still enough to edge Gay Mitchell of Fine Gael into fifth place in the county that delivered the biggest Fine Gael vote in the General Election earlier this year. But with Gay polling poorly all over the country, it was clear that, here in Mayo too, many of the party had decided to support Michael D of the Labour Party on this occasion. Dana Rosemary Scallon and David Norris finished 6th and 7th respectively in Mayo.
Count Day in the TF on Friday did reflect a new reality in Irish politics and that was the arrival of Sinn Fein as a fully-fledged constitutional party on the same grounds as all others competing for the votes of the Irish people. Back in the mid-1990s, there were many who were almost afraid to be seen talking to Sinn Fein members at Count centres up and down the country.
Castlebar-based Sinn Féin supporter Tommy Devereaux reflected on those times and also on how much things have changed. “There were people watching who was speaking to who back then. But look at the new situation here today. There are no Fianna Fáil tally people here at all …. just Fine Gael and Sinn Fein working side by side and relaying all the tallies over there to the Fine Gael people at the computer. It is a great day and thank God it has come about. Everyone has a new respect for each other and that’s the way it should be.”
John Lohan and his team did a fine job inputting the tallies and keeping us all updated with print sheets, a service always appreciated by those trying to keep right up to the date with the progress of the count.
Fintan Murphy, the returning officer, and his excellent staff once again did a marvellous job and, as always, could not be more helpful along the way.
All in all, it was a quiet day at the Mayo Count but a significant one too. A ringing endorsement of Michael D Higgins ….and the very welcome sense of ecumenism that was evident between Fine Gael and Sinn Fein folks on a day when differences were set aside and friendship and goodwill took their place.
Turnout 54.9 per cent
Total Poll 53,627
Spoiled Votes 567
Valid Poll 53,060
Michael D Higgins 20,329 38.3 per cent
Seán Gallagher 13,370 25.2 per cent
Martin McGuinness 6,300 11.9 per cent
Mary Davis 4,981 9.4 per cent
Gay Mitchell 4,878 9.2 per cent
Dana R Scallon 1,719 3.2 per cent
David Norris 1,483 2.8 per cent
Eliminated: Davis, Scallon
Higgins +2,503 22,832
Gallagher +1,755 15,125
McGuinness +611 6,911
Mitchell +866 5,744
Norris +288 1,711
Non Transferable 737
Higgins +887 23,719
Gallagher +269 15,394
McGuinness +197 7,108
Mitchell +144 5,888
Non Transferable 214
Eliminated: McGuinness, Mitchell
Higgins + 8,024 31,743
McGuinness +2,170 17,564
Non Transferable 2,802