Judge rejects 14 contentious ballots ahead of Kerry recount

Some 15,000 votes from 2014 local election in Listowel being recounted after legal action

Representatives of some of the 15 candidates who took part in the election for seven seats on Kerry County Council were present in court, including former Fianna Fáil senator Dan Kiely, whose Supreme Court challenge led to a fresh count of the 15,000 votes. Photograph: Collins.

Representatives of some of the 15 candidates who took part in the election for seven seats on Kerry County Council were present in court, including former Fianna Fáil senator Dan Kiely, whose Supreme Court challenge led to a fresh count of the 15,000 votes. Photograph: Collins.

 

A judge has cleared the way for a full recount of ballots from the 2014 local election in the Listowel muncipal district in Co Kerry after ruling that 18 contentious ballot papers can be included.

Following more than three hours of deliberations and legal submissions at Limerick Circuit Court, Judge Tom O’Donnell ruled on the 32 disputed ballot papers identified for adjudication on Wednesday.

A wax sealed envelope containing the original papers was brought from the count centre in Tralee and opened at Limerick Courthouse at 9am on Thursday.

Returning officer Charlie O’Sullivan suggested that five disputed papers would be rejected but Judge O’Donnell rejected 14.

Representatives of some of the 15 candidates who took part in the election for seven seats on Kerry County Council were present in court, including former Fianna Fáil senator Dan Kiely, whose Supreme Court challenge led to a fresh count of the 15,000 votes.

Mr Kiely, who ran in the Listowel area as an Independent, mounted the legal challenge after he lost out on a seat by just two votes.

Mr O’Sullivan outlined his reasoning behind rejecting or allowing the papers one by one. He was proposing to allow 27 of the ballot papers.

Among the disputed papers and those that were rejected by Mr O’Sullivan was a ballot paper marked with initials that clearly identified the voter.

Another voter had decorated a candidate’s picture with horns, a beard and a moustache.

Judge O’Donnell commended the preparatory work done by all parties concerned.

He said he was extremely conscious of the important role of the Returning Officer and after listening very carefully to all submissions ordered that 18 of the disputed ballot papers to be included in the count.

The recount was expected to begin in Tralee at 2.30pm.