Peter Burke and Willie Penrose elected in Longford-Westmeath

James Bannon says he may legally challenge election result after 14th count elimination

 

Fine Gael’s Peter Burke and Labour’s Willie Penrose have taken the final two seats for Longford-Westmeath after the 15th count.

Mr Penrose managed to win the last seat after he had conceded defeat five days ago. His election means Labour gets to keep its Dáil speaking rights.

“One should not say you’re dead ‘til the stake is through your heart - as I know now,” Mr Penrose told reporters after the result was announced.

Mr Penrose said his election should act as a warning to people who are writing off the Labour Party “that we do not intend to die easily. We intend to reorganise and rebirth”.

He said the party would now be the biggest in the State if it had stayed in opposition in 2011 but it made a decision in the national interest to enter government. He said the parties who did well in last week’s general election must now accept their mandate and attempt to govern.

“We’re back in opposition,” he added. “We will not be participating in any government configurations whatsoever.”

He said he had no intention to contend for the leadership of the party.

Sinn Féin’s Paul Hogan was the last candidate not elected as he did not reach the quota after the six day marathon count.

Fine Gael ‘s James Bannon is considering whether to legally challenge the Longford-Westmeath election result after he was eliminated from the competition on the 14th count, six votes behind Labour’s Willie Penrose.

Mr Bannon, who had been a TD since 2007, told reporters he would consider whether to take the “legal option” and would decide within the 14 days legally allowed.

He commiserated with his constituency and party colleague Gabrielle McFadden who also lost her seat.

He described a social media campaign against him as “very hurtful” not just to him, but his family and his “die-hard Fine Gael supporters in the constituency”.

The Longford-based deputy said it was “shocking” that Longford was left without a TD for the first time since the foundation of the State.

“The margin of my defeat is very narrow. I will assess the results in this context and only after I have taken careful advice I will make a decision whether or not to pursue the legal option. I will take advice and make a decision in a very timely manner.”

He said he heard it on the doorsteps that people had not felt the recovery. He said he had alerted the national campaign campaign team but he said “I’ll leave that for another day”.

Asked about Taoiseach Enda Kenny not visiting Longford and if that had an impact, he said “I’ll leave that for another day”.

Returning officer Imelda Brannigan announced the result of the 14th count the 72 surplus of Independent Alliance TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran at 5.30am on Thursday.

Mr Penrose received 32 votes in the transfer while 10 votes went each to Mr Bannon and Mr Burke and 20 votes to Mr Hogan.

Mr Bannon’s 7,081 votes are now being distributed. Mr Burke has 7,890 votes while Mr Hogan has 7,386. Mr Penrose is 299 votes behind Mr Burke.

Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy topped the poll and was elected on the first count.

At 4.10am Ms Brannigan announced the formal election, for the second time, of Independent Alliance candidate Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran with a slightly revised surplus of 72 votes.

This was two more than in the original count. Ms Brannigan then proceeded with the re-counting of Mr Moran’s surplus.

A recount was called on Tuesday morning after Mr Moran’s surplus was distributed when it emerged that Fine Gael’s James Bannon was two votes behind Labour’s Willie Penrose and was due to be excluded from the race.

The result of the distribution of Mr Moran’s vote is the crucial factor in determining whether it is Mr Bannon or Mr Penrose who is excluded.

The original 13th count involved the distribution of votes of Fianna Fáil’s Connie Gerety-Quinn and Mr Bannon came out 19 votes ahead of Mr Penrose.