It was a fight for the last seat in Letterkenny, but Sinn Féin Cllr Mick Quinn finished ahead of independent candidate Donal Cullen in the 17th count on Monday morning.
The last remaining candidates, their families and supporters left the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny at about 5.30am on Monday.
Ten-year Donegal County Council veteran, Fine Gael’s Noel McBride, lost his seat in the 15th count. His party colleague, outgoing Letterkenny town Councillor Jimmy Kavanagh, was elected to the county council on the 16th count after a big boost from the distribution of Cllr. McBride’s votes.
It was also a good night for independents, with Donegal Mayor, Cllr. Ian McGarvey; Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Michael McBride, and candidates John O’Donnell and Dessie Shiels all taking seats on the incoming council.
Outgoing Letterkenny town councillor, Gerry McMonagle of Sinn Féin, also took a seat on the county council.
Fianna Fáil will send three councillors to Lifford: Cllr. Liam Blaney, Cllr Ciaran Brogan and candidate James Pat McDaid. Outgoing Fianna Fáil Cllr. Dessie Larkin did not contest the election.
There were 22 candidates in all, competing for 10 seats in the Letterkenny Electoral Area.
Pádraig MacLochlainn, Sinn Féin TD for Donegal North East, said the local elections in Donegal were a milestone for the party.
“We never had two councillors before in an electoral area,” he said. Now they have two councillors in four out of five electoral areas.
”That’s a big deal,” Deputy MacLochlainn said.
Joe McHugh, Fine Gael TD for Donegal North East, had said Fine Gael councillors nationally had paid the price for a message the voters were sending government. Cllr. McBride agreed.
Cllr. McBride said he and his Fine Gael colleagues Cllr. John Boyle and Cllr Mickey Doherty, who also lost their seats, were victims of the backlash.
“The councillors I named are hard-working councillors, councillors who always worked for their communities and gave their communities their undivided attention,” Cllr. McBride said.
Cllr Kavanagh said he was pleased that he had been so “transfer-friendly” within Letterkenny. He attributed his result, in part, to Letterkenny voters seeking to keep councillors in the town because of the loss of the town council.
Cllr. Brogan was very happy with the Fianna Fáil result.
“We took three of the first four seats -- that’s very strong,” he said. He noted that Mr McDaid came late to the race and said his team deserved a lot of credit.
Cllr Michael McBride said he knew as long as he was able to pick up transfers steadily, he would do well. Pointing to Cllrs Kavanagh and McMonagle, and Mr. McDaid, he said, “People who picked up solid transfers all day long, they got elected.”
The Letterkenny Electoral Area poll at the end of Count 17
Cllr. Liam Blaney (FF) 1719 Elected first count
John O’Donnell (Ind) 1719 Elected fourth count
Cllr. Ciaran Brogan (FF) 1719 Elected sixth count
James Pat McDaid (FF) 1719 Elected 13th count
Cllr. Ian McGarvey (Ind) 1744 Elected 14th count
Cllr. Jimmy Kavanagh (FG) 1719 Elected 16th count
Cllr. Michael McBride (Ind) 1698 Elected 17th count
Dessie Shiels (Ind) 1573 Elected 17th count
Cllr. Gerry McMonagle (SF) 1552 Elected 17th count
Cllr. Mick Quinn (SF) 1304 Elected 17th count
Donal Cullen (Ind) 1258
Cllr. Noel McBride (FG) 1040
Cllr. Paschal Blake (Ind) 957
Charlie McClafferty (Ind) 800
John Watson (FF) 622
David Fisher (Ind) 537
Grace Boyle (FG) 503
Tom Crossan (LRP) 488
Christopher Galligan (Lab) 419
Siobhan McLaughlin (Lab) 353
Peter Cutliffe (Ind) 225
Billy Banda (PBP) 183