Fine Gael takes three of six seats in Monaghan local election rerun

Party defies national trend in recent local elections

Hugh McElvaney (FG), Ciara McPhillips (FG) and newcomer Eugene Bannigan (FG) celebrating yesterday in the Ballybay-Clones electoral area which will complete the shape of Monaghan. Photograph: Philip Fitzpatrick

Hugh McElvaney (FG), Ciara McPhillips (FG) and newcomer Eugene Bannigan (FG) celebrating yesterday in the Ballybay-Clones electoral area which will complete the shape of Monaghan. Photograph: Philip Fitzpatrick

 

Fine Gael defied recent local election trends when it took three of the six seats in the rerun of the election to the Ballybay-Clones electoral area in the Monaghan County Council elections at the weekend. Sinn Féin took two seats and Fianna Fáil one.

The second electoral contest was held because of the sudden death of outgoing Fine Gael councillor Owen Bannigan on polling day last month.

Mr Bannigan, a key figure in the party in Monaghan, collapsed near his home in Ballybay. His 21-year-old son, Eugene, succeeded his father on the council when he was elected on the fifth count.

Three candidates were elected on the first count: poll-topper Seamus Coyle (FF), Ciara McPhillips (FG) and Cathy Bennett (SF).

Following Mr Bannigan’s election, the remaining two seats were filled on the seventh and final count with the election of Hugh McElvaney (FG) and Pat Treanor (SF). Cavan-Monaghan Fine Gael TD Seán Conlan said the result for his party had “clearly bucked the trend’’ and highlighted the level of support for Fine Gael in the constituency.

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin referred to his party’s achievement in taking two seats, saying the party had trebled its council representation nationally.

The result paves the way for the first meeting of Monaghan County Council which is expected to be held shortly. Polling took place on Saturday and the count was held in the courthouse in Clones yesterday.

The electorate was 15,326 and the total poll was 8,964, representing a turnout of 58 per cent, with 73 spoiled votes and a valid poll of 8,891. The quota was 1,271.