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“I can’t explain it,” Mr Bannon remarked. “There’s no sense of pride in one’s county when that happens. You talk about putting on the county jersey and everything else and when you see that happening it is quite annoying. Longford needs a TD, I emphasised that during the course of the campaign because I pointed out that counties like Carlow and Leitrim lost their TD in the past and they were at serious disadvantage because they had nobody at Government level to advocate on their behalf.”
Mr Bannon said the loss of a TD “never happened in the history of the State, Longford always had two TDs, but I don’t know why so many people went along and voted for Westmeath candidates or what they were thinking of.”
Mr Bannon said one-third, or more than 6,000 of Longford’s 18,000 votes went to candidates from Co Westmeath.
Counting resumed in the constituency late yesterday evening, following a recount.
Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy was the first of the four TDs to be elected. He secured a seat with a surplus, but the remaining three seats have yet to be filled. Independent Alliance candidate Kevin “Boxer” Moran is almost certain to take the second seat.
A recount was called at Count 12 as 38 votes divided Connie Gerety-Quinn of Fianna Fáil and Mr Bannon – the two remaining candidates from Co Longford. Ms Gerety-Quinn was subsequently eliminated at 8pm last night.
After an exhausting count, Michael D’Arcy and Paul Kehoe – both of Fine Gael – joined Labour’s Brendan Howlin, James Browne of Fianna Fáil and Independent Mick Wallace in representing the constituency in the next Dáil.
Mr D’Arcy and Mr Kehoe were elected without reaching the quota after an exhausting count. Sinn Féin’s Johnny Mythen was just 52 votes behind Mr Keogh at about 5.30am on Sunday as the count was drawing to a close, and he requested a full recount.
When deputy returning officer John Garahy mounted the podium at about 5.30pm yesterday many present were expecting an announcement about a recount.
However, Mr Garahy simply resumed the results of the 14th count which had been suspended since Sunday morning, and moved on to make the formal declaration of the count results.
The recheck is expected to continue today.
All of the almost-43,000 votes cast in the constituency were rechecked in the battle between Bríd Smith of the AAA-PBP and Fianna Fáil’s Catherine Ardagh.
Ms Smith was ahead by 35 votes at the end of the final count when Ms Ardagh sought a recount.
Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh topped the poll and was elected first. Independents for Change TD Joan Collins came in second and Fine Gael TD Catherine Byrne was the third candidate to retain her seat.
Returning officer Frank Gallagher had said he would by 7.30pm either declare Sunday’s election result valid with the option open to anyone to petition to challenge this in the circuit court, or announce a full recount.
Fine Gael party members at the count, however, challenged his right to do this and called in party HQ legal advisor, solicitor Kevin O’Higgins.
Mr Gallagher then agreed to allow the candidates and their legal advisors to scrutinise the ballot papers on which he would be basing his decision. In response Ms Zappone too has called in her legal advisor, Michael McDowell SC.
The votes of all 20 candidates were last night being checked following the request by Independent Senator Averil Power for a recount.
Ms Power was expected to be eliminated. It remained unclear whether Fianna Fáil’s Seán Haughey would be elected last night or today.
AAA-PBP candidate John Lyons was also expected to be excluded. A Sinn Féin/Labour tally of both candidates’ transfers suggested Independent Tommy Broughan could be in contention for the fourth seat.