Offaly County Council: Big blow for Sinn Féin while Greens claim first seat

Retired garda, and founder of the Irish Democratic Party, wins seat

Sinn Féin were the big losers in Offaly as the county elected a Green Party councillor for the first time.

All three of the Sinn Féin seats were swept away, with the green wave bringing home Pippa Hackett in the Edenderry Area at the expense of Alan Davy.

Ken Smollen, retired garda and founder of the Irish Democratic Party, won a seat in the Tullamore Area, where Sinn Féin’s Anne Marie Ennis trailed in last of the 12 candidates.

In Birr, where Carol Nolan was elected for Sinn Féin in 2014 before winning a seat in the Dáil and then leaving the party because of her opposition to abortion, first-time candidate Clare Claffey was elected for the Social Democrats with Seán Maher losing out.


Hackett, an organic farmer and equine scientist who lives in Geashill, joined the Greens three years ago on the recommendation of her neighbour, Irish Green Party founder Christopher Fettes.

Smollen, a native of Tullamore and resident of Clara, has been campaigning on food poverty and mortgage distress issues and ran for the Dail in 2016.

Claffey, who lives in Banagher, was a prominent member of the Abortion Rights Campaign in Offaly. Her election, and that of Hackett’s, means Offaly no longer has the distinction of being an all-male council.

The poll also saw the return to the council in Tullamore of an Independent, Seán O’Brien, a former Labour representative.

Sinn Féin’s chances were severely hampered by the decision of two of the 2014 poll toppers, Martin O’Reilly in Edenderry and Brendan Killeavy in Tullamore, not to defend their seats.

Fianna Fail retained their eight seats and they had an especially impressive showing in the Tullamore Area, where a 46 per cent share of the vote saw them win four of the seven seats.

Fine Gael won four seats, an increase of one on five years ago. Noel Cribbin, first elected as an Independent in Edenderry, joined Fine Gael last year.

The party also secured the election of a new candidate, 31-year-old Neil Feighery, parliamentary assistant to Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, in the Tullamore Area.

Renua Ireland leader John Leahy topped the poll in the Birr Area but his running mate Monica Barnwell was not in contention for a seat, and in the Tullamore Area, Renua candidate Brendan Galvin polled well but was eliminated on the seventh count.

An alliance of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael has controlled the council for the last five years but that arrangement is now likely to be reviewed.

John Foley, the Independent re-elected in Edenderry, is a former Fianna Fáil member, and if his support is secured, the party need just one more councillor for a majority in the 19-strong chamber.

(First preference votes: candidates elected in bold)

Birr: 6 seats

John Leahy (Renua Ireland)- 2,277 (elected on count 1)
Peter Ormond (Fianna Fáil)- 1,729 (elected on count 1)
John Clendennen (Fine Gael) - 1,330 (elected on count 8)
Eamon Dooley (Fianna Fáil) - 1,112 (elected on count 10)
John Carroll (Ind) - 996 (elected on count 10)
Clare Claffey (Social Dems)- 657 (elected on count 10)

Hughie Egan (Fine Gael)- 877
Bernie Fanneran (Fianna Fáil)- 715
Alan Kenny (Fianna Fáil) - 386
Seán Maher (Sinn Féin) - 539
Joe Wynne (Independent) - 500
Marian Pilkington (Fine Gael) - 327
Monica Barnwell (Renua Ireland) - 298
Habibul Mukhtiar (Ind)- 102

Edenderry: 6 seats

Eddie Fitzpatrick (Fianna Fáil) - 1,714 (elected on count 1)
John Foley (Independent)- 1,464 (elected on count 1)
Liam Quinn (Fine Gael) - 922 (elected count 5)
Robert McDermott (Fianna Fáil)- 676 (elected count 5)
Noel Cribbin (Fine Gael) - 786 (elected count 7)
Pippa Hackett (Green Party) - 584 (elected count 7)

Alan Davy (Sinn Féin) - 597
Fergus McDonnell (Ind)- 551
Christine Traynor (Fianna Fáil)- 455
Pat Daly (Fianna Fáil)- 454

Tullamore: 7 seats

Frank Moran (Fianna Fáil) - 1,538 (elected on count 1)
Declan Harvey (Fianna Fáil)- 1,418 (elected on count 1)
Neil Feighery (Fine Gael) - 1,224 (elected on count 6)
Danny Owens (Fianna Fáil)- 1,182 (elected on count 8)
Ken Smollen (Irish Democratic Party) - 1,054 (elected on count 8)
Tony McCormack (Fianna Fáil)- 1,044 (elected on count 8)
Sean O'Brien (Ind)- 892 (elected on count 8)

John Bracken (Ind) - 523
Anne Marie Ennis (Sinn Féin)- 287
Deirdre Fox (Fine Gael) - 732
Brendan Galvin (Renua Ireland) - 621
Bernard Westman (Fine Gael) - 532