Taking a massive 637 votes from Marc Mac Sharry’s surplus of 759, Eamonn Scanlon took the fourth seat in Sligo Leitrim to give Fianna Fáil two of four seats available.
For Fianna Fáil the result was sweet, returning two, while Fine Gael were clearly disappointed, having looked likely for much of the two day count to be in line to take two seats.
However, just outgoing Tony McLoughlin, who has recovered from serious illness, did in fact take a seat for Fine Gael, he and Scanlon deemed elected without reaching the quota of 12,468 votes.
Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny took the second seat while Marc MacSharry was a poll topper from Saturday morning, with a first preference vote of 8,856 votes. MacSharry was elected when he exceeded the quota on the 13th count.
The son of former Finance Minister and EU commissioner Ray MacSharry, Marc MacSharry was very emotional when he arrived at the count centre and talked about feeling “humbled” by the vote he received.
“I always had faith, I always believed it would turn for me, I felt it would come eventually with the preferences and in the end it was the Sligo vote got me over the line, while colleague Paddy Rourke’s number twos from Cavan also helped.”
Scanlon, who lost his vote in 2011 with 9,400, recalled that defeat as “a bitter loss” and explained how he went back to the start again, through the council and doing what he needed to do to make his return to Dáil Eireann.
The most high profile casualty from the election in Sligo Leitrim, west Cavan and south Donegal was former junior minister, John Perry who was excluded after the ninth count. Gracious in defeat, Perry said he didn’t wish to go into the details of his defeat, opting only to remark that the ball “didn’t hop for me” this time.
The final hours of the count were the most dramatic with Scanlon’s emergence to take the fourth seat catching the imagination.
Labour Senator Susan O’Keefe was another well known candidate, her working on the Banking Enquiry committee, a suggested reason why she didn’t do as well as might have been expected.
Declan Bree, perhaps one of the best known left wing politicians in the country polled well in Sligo City, but acknowledge himself that he needs to do more in rural areas and needs to expand his organisation.