McEntee elected in Meath East byelection as Labour vote collapses
Daughter of late TD reaches 11,473 votes after third and final count
He complained about the media presenting the byelection as a “two horse race” between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
“We are the third party in this election. We came from a standing start. We introduced a person who no one outside of our own ranks knew. We fought a three-week campaign. We increased our vote by a very, very substantial amount and we’re going to continue to build on that.”
The Sinn Féin candidate, Darren O’Rourke, said he was committed to the constituency of Meath East and was looking forward to building on what had been achieved.
Party deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “We're content this is another staging post for us in Meath East. The entire narrative around this campaign was it was a two-horse race, and people listened to that. I have a sense a good chunk of Labour vote didn't come out at all. Some of it came to us.”
Looking to secure fourth place ahead of Labour is Ben Gilroy of new party Direct Democracy Ireland, who is performing better than anticipated.
Mr Gilroy said it was an “extraordinary” result. “We are doing extremely well because most people never even heard of us... we are the dark horse,” he told RTÉ radio. “This was a recruitment opportunity for us, so every cloud has a silver lining,” he said.
Counting got under way at about 9am.
Heavy snowfalls and unseasonally cold weather contributed to a low turnout for the byelection.
As polling stations closed at 9pm last night, some sources predicted the turnout would not be much more than 30 per cent. Fine Gael sources said the figure might be a little higher, closer to 40 per cent.
The last comparable election was the byelection held in the former constituency of Meath in 1995, where turnout was 41 per cent. That election was won by Shane McEntee, whose death last December created the vacancy in the three-seat constituency.
While voting levels for this byelection were not expected to be high, the overnight falls of snow which left some roads in the country in a hazardous condition led to exceptionally low turnout in the first two to three hours of polling. By mid-afternoon the weather had brightened, but polling stations were still reporting turnouts of 15 per cent cent or lower.
The low turnout means parties will be relying on their core vote. Ms McEntee and Mr Byrne are joint favourites with bookmakers.
First Count Results:
Thomas Byrne (Fianna Fáil) - 8,002
Ben Gilroy (Direct Democracy Ireland) - 1,568
Eoin Holmes (Labour) - 1,112
Charlie Keddy (Independent) - 110
Mick Martin (Indepe7ndent) - 190
Séamus McDonagh (Workers’ Party) - 263
Helen McEntee (Fine Gael) - 9,356
Gearóid O’Brien (Independent) - 73
Sean O Buachalla (Greens ) - 423
Darren O’Rourke (Sinn Féin) - 3,165
Jim Tallon (Independent) - 47