O'Sullivan dedicates her victory to Tony Gregory's legacy

 

THE COUNT:ALMOST 10 hours after the tallies predicted her victory, Independent candidate Maureen O’Sullivan was finally declared elected TD for Dublin Central late on Saturday night, maintaining the left-wing seat in the constituency.

Ms O’Sullivan, a secondary school teacher from East Wall, and a councillor since last year, won with 13,739 votes without reaching the quota of 14,207. Her nearest rival and the only other remaining candidate in the eighth and final count, Senator Paschal Donohoe, finished on 10,198 votes.

Fianna Fáil suffered a huge drop in support with Cllr Maurice Ahern, brother of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, trailing in fifth place from the first count on just 12.25 per cent (3,483 votes), compared to 44.5 per cent for the party in 2007 and 39 per cent for the former taoiseach.

Ms O’Sullivan kept the seat held by Tony Gregory, whose death resulted in the byelection.

She had acted as his election agent since 1979. She topped the poll with 26.88 per cent (7,639 votes) followed by Senator Donohoe on 22.66 per cent (6,439 votes), Labour senator Ivana Bacik on 17.3 per cent (4,926) and, in fourth place, Sinn Féin councillor Christy Burke, who received 3,770 votes or 13.3 per cent.

Before the completion of tallies at about noon, there were suggestions Senator Donohoe, the frontrunner from the start of the campaign, and Senator Bacik could be in contention. However significant transfers from Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil made Ms O’Sullivan’s position unassailable.

In her acceptance speech, she said the seat was “for the community activists, the friends, the canvassers the supporters who were with Tony Gregory for the past 30 years and were with me”.

The seat “is also for our master strategist, Noel Gregory”, brother of the late TD, she said to huge cheers. “Finally, this seat is for you, Tony Gregory, wherever you are. Tony, we did it for you. We were not going to hand it over to a political party.”

The new TD insisted “we will carry on the independent community vote for Dublin Central”. Tony’s “voice was in my head advising me what to do”.

Fine Gael’s Dublin Central director Richard Bruton said: “We came from being the weakest party to being the strongest party among the recognised political parties and that’s a huge achievement.”

Mr Ahern denied his very poor showing was a “slap in the face” for the Ahern name and machine.

“The tide’s just out and that’s it. It’s out all over the place,” he said.