Meath East Count

Follow the Meath East Byelection count

Hugh Linehan Thu, Mar 28
 
LIVE: Meath East Count

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  • 08:41
    Welcome to The Irish Times live coverage of today's count in the Meath East byelection. The by-election was held yesterday to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee on December 21st. The count begins at 9am and indications last night were that turnout may have been as low as 35 per cent, with adverse weather conditions not helping.
  • 08:43
    Here are the candidates as they appeared on the ballot paper:

    BYRNE FIANNA FÁIL
    (Thomas Byrne, of 42, The Boulevard, Grange Rath, Colpe, Co. Meath.
    Senator)

    GILROY DIRECT DEMOCRACY IRELAND
    (Ben Gilroy, of 28 Riverview, Athlumney Abbey, Navan, Co. Meath
    Businessman)



    HOLMES THE LABOUR PARTY
    (Eoin Holmes, of Blackhill, Heathtown, Stamullen, County Meath
    Film Producer)

    KEDDY NON PARTY
    (Charlie Keddy, of Sea Road, Kilcoole, County Wicklow
    Plumber)



    MARTIN NON PARTY
    (Mick Martin, of Stackallan, Slane, Co. Meath
    Financial Services Advisor)



    MCDONAGH THE WORKERS PARTY
    (Seamus McDonagh, of 22 St. Bridgit's Tce, Kells County Meath
    Steel Fixer)



    MCENTEE FINE GAEL
    (Helen McEntee, of Castletown, Navan, Co. Meath.
    Political Researcher)


    O'BRIEN
    (Gerard Michael O'Brien, of Whistlemount, Kells Rd., Navan, Co. Meath
    Psychiatric Nurse)



    Ó BUACHALLA GREEN PARTY/COMHAONTAS GLAS
    (Seán Gearóid Ó Buachalla, of Baile Phiarais, Dún Búinne, Co. na Mí
    Oifigeach Forbartha Clubanna Óige)



    O'ROURKE SINN FÉIN
    (Darren O'Rourke, of 79 Cluain Rí, Ashbourne, Co. Meath.
    Health Policy Advisor)


    TALLON NON PARTY
    (Jim Tallon, of Glasnost, Emoclew Road, Arklow, Co. Wicklow
    Farmer)

  • 08:46
    Harry McGee and Mary Minihan of our political staff are standing by at the count centre in Ashbourne and will be bringing us updates throughout the morning.
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    As Harry McGee explains:

    'The last comparable election was the byelection held in the former constituency of Meath in 1995 where turnout was 41 per cent. That election was won by Shane McEntee, whose death last December created the vacancy in the three-seat constituency.

    'The low turnout means parties will be relying on their core vote. Fine Gael’s Helen McEntee, daughter of the late Mr McEntee, and Fianna Fáil’s Thomas Byrne are joint favourites with bookmakers. Sinn Féin’s Darren O’Rourke is also expected to increase his party’s share of the vote significantly.
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  • 09:35
    Along with our rolling news updates, you can find all our coverage of the byelection here.
  • 09:37
    Jason Kennedy, our video reporter,  says all early tallies indicate a two-horse race between Byrne and McEntee.
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    'I think McEntee has it won - Labour is decimated,' says FG supporter Jim Nevin to Jason Kennedy.
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    So early indications (serious health warning) are that McEntee (FG) is leading, followed by Byrne (FF), O'Rourke (SF), Gilroy (DDI) and Holmes (LAB)
  • 09:55
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  • 09:59
    Our reporter Dan Griffin in Ashbourne hears from  Labour supporter John Pierson, who's' very disappointed'.  'I firmly believe we could have made a significant impact on government policy but the people have spoken'.
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    SF tallywoman: 'We'll definitely come in third.'
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  • 10:09
    One of the big stories so far is the strong performance of Direct Democracy Ireland's Ben Gilroy, who's looking like he may well come in ahead of Labour, although the geographical bias towards the south of the constituency in early boxes should probably be taken into account.
  • 10:12
    Here's a report from last November on the launch of Direct Democracy Ireland.

    'It was standing room only at the launch of new political party Direct Democracy Ireland in Dublin yesterday, as over 200 supporters crammed into a conference room at Buswell’s hotel.
    The party, which wants to “introduce participatory democracy”, aims to run candidates in the 2014 local and European elections.
    Yesterday it began a “recruitment drive” and intends to build a network across the State.
    The party has outlined three main aims: to allow citizens to petition for a referendum on any issue by collecting a certain number of signatures; to allow politicians to be removed if they are not performing; and to create “realistic economic choices” based on public debate.
    Although it has been in existence for over two years, it only last month become an official party on the State’s register of political parties, which requires 300 members.
    Party founder Raymond Whitehead stressed that it was a “political service” rather than a party and wanted to “transform the political system” from a representative democracy to direct democracy.
    The organisation has built up a network of “several hundred supporters”, with two offices in Dublin, one in Kildare and a head office in Trim, Co Meath.
    The party is not “left or right but about balance”, party member Ben Gilroy said as he invited people and groups to join.
    Mr Gilroy said if there had been direct democracy the “bailout would never have happened”.
  • 10:14
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    Pat Rabbitte to RTE: 'It would seem that Labour have taken the brunt of the negative reaction. Labour voters didn't come out. They are making a protest. We have to listen to what they're saying, but we inherited the biggest mess left to a government since 1922'
  • 10:15
    'I get the feeling it's neck and neck in terms of FF and FG,' says FF councillor David McGuinness. 'It's early days.. If we get stronger with the first preferences we'll be in with a shout of the seat.'
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  • 10:34
    Dan Griffin in Ashbourne tells me FG supporters are say McEntee is 'a good bit behind in Kells town'.
  • 10:36
    At 10.45pm the candidates will meet with the Returning Officer 'to give you the run of the day'.
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  • 11:00
    Much focus on Labour's poor showing, and whether the party will end up in fifth place. there may also be some disappointment in Sinn Fein, who got nine per cent of the vote in 2011, and look like getting around 12 per cent this time out. Not much chance of them pushing for the third seat at the next general election on those numbers.
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    Pearse Doherty to RTE: 'We're polling just under 13 per cent and will be third.'
  • 11:13
    Pearse Doherty:. 'Very satisfied with substantial increase in our vote. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't poll stronger when all boxes are opened.'
  • 11:20
    Our own Mary Minihan to RTE: McEntee's base is in north o constituency. She's done well in south, so you can expect her to do even better from the northern results. Sinn Fein's Darren O'Rourke  doing well in Kells. Ben Gilroy of DDI doing very well indeed in a respectable fourth place. The news story really is the low Labour figure of 4.3 per cent. Labour have had their big guns out here since early in the morning. Dominic Hannigan looking rather grim-faced.
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  • 11:41
    So it looks s if we are likely to see just two counts, with all candidates except Byrne and McEntee eliminated after the first count (which is still scheduled for completion by 3pm). McEntee is still  in a strong leading position, although some observers still think transfers could put Byrne back in the frame if the margin between FF and FG is slim enough after the first count. With SF (12 per cent), DDI (7 per cent) and LAB (5 per cent) providing those transfers, that could get interesting... but probably not.
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    Expectation is that a final, official, confirmed result won't happen until around 6pm - 7pm this evening.
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    The word on the ground from Ashbourne is that FF are living in hope of a good transfer return, but FG with a 4 per cent lead in first preferences are feeling confident.
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    Michael - South Tipp Well done on the blog. Are Sinn Fein concerned about the emergance of DDI
  • 12:21
    Thanks Michael. Interesting question. One Fine Gael rep was suggesting former SF members had been out canvassing for DDI.
  • 12:22
    Frank Johnson When will the people learn not to keep voting in Tweedledum for Tweedledee ?? I suspect never in this country as we just keep voting for FG/FF...
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  • 12:31
    A frisson of excitement among FF supporters has been dampened by those most recent tallies, with 90 per cent of boxes now taken into account and the gap between FG and FF widening to 6 per cent.
  • 12:32
    Jim Monaghan So Labour go the way of PASOK. And the media bear responsibility for the rehabilitation of FF. Pro Troika parties have a huge lead. The alternative Left are a collection of Gregorys without a national vision.
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  • 12:55
    And here are your lunchtime headlines on the Meath East byelection count. With all boxes opened, FG's Helen McEntee looks set to take the seat held by her late father. FF's Thomas Byrne is around six per cent behind McEntee, and looks unlikely to receive sufficient transfers to catch up. The other main stories are the complete collapse of the Labour vote to four per cent or even less, and the strong showing of Direct Democracy Ireland's Ben Gilroy, at almost seven per cent. An official first count result is expected at around 3pm, with the second and final count expected between 6 - 7pm.
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  • 13:00
    There was a bit of complaining from FG during the campaign about Labour not over-exerting themselves to ask their supporters to transfer to their coalistion partners. as it turns out, there aren't that many Labour votes to transfer anway, But our man Dan Griffin tells me they're transferring heavily to McEntee.
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    Paul Labour have to take notice if this. If they cared about the people of ireland they should keep there promises. Boycott property tax they can and will be beaten.
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    Ben Gilroy to RTE: DDI registered and launched just before Christmas. We're strong in Donegal and Waterford and growing in other places. A little bit surprised by result.
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    Ben Gilroy: This was a recruitment opportunity for us, so every cloud has a silver lining.
  • 13:28
    Damien English (FG) to RTE: Helen had to go out there and prove herself. She put in a great campaign. In areas that weren't McEntee strongholds, she went out and got votes. It's a major plus for the McEntee family and the Fine Gael family.
  • 13:30
    Derek Nolan (LAB): A lot of our voters stayed at home. People know we're going through a bad time. we're having to fix that mess, and we bore the brunt of that. This is an election where people decided to not vote for us, and we have to take that on board.
  • 13:32
    Daragh O'Brien (FF) to RTE: This was not just a local vote. We ran a constructive and positive campaign. It's not about FF getting back into government. But there was a leson for Labour here - that you can't promise the sun, moon and stars and then break every promise.
  • 13:34
    Mary Lou McDonald (SF) to RTE: We're content this is another staging post for us in Meath East. The entire narrative around this campaign was it was a two-horse race, and people listened to that. I have a sense a good chunk of Labour vote didn't come out at all. Some of it came to us.
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    Sean Finlay Will Darren O'Rourke get in to the second count because he has achieved more than 12.50 % of the first count?
  • 14:41
    Sean, my understanding (but I'm happy to stand corrected) is that he would only get to the second count if the sum total of all the eliminated candidates' votes was greater than the difference between O'Rourke and the second-placed candidate, Byrne. Otherwise, the count would have no effect on the final rankings or outcome and is therefore deemed unnecessary.
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  • 15:32
    Mary White When should we expect an official fist count result? Also what channel do ye know are going to be showing the results?
  • 15:35
    Hi Mary,
    First count due in less than 10 minutes. On that note, I'm going to sign off this liveblog. Our reports, analysis and videos will continue for the rest of the day on our special Meath East Byelection topic page.