THE huge vote recorded by Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane shaped the entire election result in Waterford.
He pulled in 20,569 first-preference votes – twice the quota – and, because he had no running-mate, his surplus went on to elect other candidates on the Left, none of whom reached the quota.
Mr Cullinane’s surplus boosted the vote of People Before Profit’s Una Dunphy and when she was eliminated her transfers helped elect cardiac-care campaigner Matt Shanahan and Marc Ó Cathasaigh of the Green Party who both got in on the seventh count.
Fianna Fáil’s Mary Butler was re-elected on the seventh count, ahead of Mr Ó Cathasaigh .
Fine Gael suffered from a close division of the vote between its two candidates, John Cummins and Damien Geoghegan.
In the seventh and last count, Mr Ó Cathasaigh survived a late challenge from Mr Cummins, who picked up 2,597 of Mr Geoghegan’s 5,549 votes.
The result means Waterford is without a Fine Gael TD for the first time since the party was formed, except for a brief period following a by-election in 1966. West Waterford is without a local TD for the first time since the 1940s.
We have to put climate action and biodiversity front and centre.
Mr Ó Cathasaigh, a teacher from Tramore, agreed that he had benefitted from a swing to the Left. “The vote was Left – and it stayed Left – and that helped me,” he told WLR.
“It has been a very hectic last 12 months,” said Mr Ó Cathasaigh, who has a seat on Waterford City and County Council
“It’s been a steep learning curve in the council – the county development plan is coming down the tracks and Green thinking is essential for forward planning.
“We have to put climate action and biodiversity front and centre.
“We may have tripled our mandate. The main story is the rise of Sinn Féin, but there’s also the rise of the Green Party vote. Last time out we narrowly broke 2% nationally.
“This time out we comfortable broke 7%.”
he should step aside as leader of Fine Gael
The rout of Fine Gael brought a call from its former TD and senator Paudie Coffey, for Leo Varadkar to step down as party leader. He told WLR: “I think Leo should reflect on his position.
“I think he’s done his best. He didn’t achieve what he set out to do unfortunately.
“I think he should step aside as leader of Fine Gael and allow a new re-building of the party from the grassroots up again.”
Mr Varadkar is facing a vote of confidence from the Fine Gael parliamentary party. Party rules state that any leader must submit to a vote of confidence if, after a general election, the party is not forming or joining in the formation of a government.