Cork South West

Mon, May 28, 2007, 01:00

While the pundits got it right about Fine Gael winning back PJ Sheehan's seat, which it lost in 2002, many were astounded by the poll- topping performance of Christy O'Sullivan, who unseated his Fianna Fáil party colleague Denis O'Donovan.

Fine Gael spokesman on justice Jim O'Keeffe retained his seat and the party's disciplined vote management came up trumps again with the ebullient Sheehan - who lost out by just 35 votes in 2002 - making a comeback to the Dáil at the age of 74.

The irony of Fianna Fáil's seat loss is that it increased its share of the first preference vote to 42.5 per cent, as against Fine Gael's 36 per cent, but it lost out in the transfer stakes.

Former Independent county councillor Christy O'Sullivan, who was added to the Fianna Fáil ticket without going through a selection convention, amassed an impressive 10,333 first preferences - just 292 short of the quota - and was elected on the second count after Sinn Féin's Cionnaith Ó Suilleabháin's disappointing 2,150 votes were distributed.

Quentin Gargan increased the Green Party's share of the vote by over 6 percentage points but was eliminated after the second count.

When Fianna Fáil's bitterly disappointed O'Donovan failed to benefit significantly from Gargan's transfers, he was facing defeat after just one term in the Dáil.

Also disappointed was Labour Senator Michael McCarthy, who - with less than 10 per cent of the vote - failed to make the hoped-for breakthrough. The fourth count was the distribution of his votes, which saw O'Keeffe surpass the quota and PJ Sheehan declared elected without reaching it.

Overall change: FF loss, FG gain

Outgoing TDs

Joe Walsh FF

Denis O'DonovanFF

Jim O'Keeffe FG