WHEN Rose Conway-Walsh was raised high by her supporters following her election, her husband Noel could barely keep his emotions in check. He had canvassed with her throughout the campaign and despite the tallies showing her in a good position, on the morning of the count her was still very nervous with transfers. A couple of packs of cigarettes later he still can’t believe what has happened.
“It was very nerve-wracking over the last two days but I’m delighted that we got there at the end. She got a great first preference vote but the transfers came this time, which they didn’t the last time. I’m thrilled, Rose put so much hard work into it and emotionally, I’m shattered right now,” he said.
It was always expected that she would increase her vote on five years ago but the manner of her increase took a number of people by surprise. Throughout the count she was able to keep Tim Quinn at arms length and her victory was predicted from early on with her supporters getting the tri-colour ready for the celebrations.
Just before the sixth and final count, Rose told The Mayo News that she could hardly believe she was going to get elected and said it was great to be creating history as the first female elected from the area.
“You can never expect what you will get. I didn’t know how it was going to work out but we put in a very good campaign and we were hoping that the results would come. It is a few minutes before I’ll be elected and I still cannot believe that I am going to be elected. Regardless of whether people voted for me I will represent everybody fairly with integrity and honesty to the best of my ability.”
Among the people who was on hand to congratulate Rose on her victory was Gerry Murray, who for the last eight years was Sinn Féin’s only councillor in Mayo County Council. With two Sinn Féin councillors now on the Council, Rose said the party had been building for this for a number of years.
“We have fought for this for at least ten years and it has been ten years of hard work but I’m delighted that Gerry Murray will be there and the two of us hopefully will make a significant difference in Mayo County Council.”
The other major stories of the afternoon was the mixed fortune for the Fianna Fáil candidates with Achill councillor Micheál McNamara topping the poll with 1,503 despite the anti-Government sentiments among the public, and the demise of long standing councillor Tim Quinn. The Belmullet man had been ever-present on the Council since 1975 but was not present at the count to witness the final results.
At the third count and to scenes of jubilation, McNamara was the first candidate to be elected and not quite able to believe the significance of his achievement, he thanked all his supporters who have helped him.
“I’d like to thank the people of the electoral area and particular the parish of Achill. I hope that their faith in me will be rewarded. I honestly never thought about it [topping the poll] to be quite honest with you. I have been just concentrating on my own campaign and I have a fantastic organisation backboned by Fianna Fáil.
“I have kept the head down for the last number of years and worked well with the Council officials and the government ministers, in particular Éamon Ó Cuív. In addition to that I have family and friends that have always gone out to help me. I want to congratulate them on the work they have done and I hope I will be able to respond to the fantastic vote I have got and work as hard as I have over the last five years.”
As one new candidate begins to enter the Council chamber for the first time, and another bows out of politics after 35 years, Micheál McNamara said that among all the euphoria of his win he was disappointed that Tim Quinn would not be joining him. “I have known Tim Quinn for a very long time and is a very hard working councillor and will be missed,” he said.