A PERSONAL triumph for Fine Gael’s national Director of Elections Phil Hogan unfolded at Cillin Hill, Kilkenny as Fine Gael claimed three seats from the Carlow/Kilkenny Constituency - the first time ever in the history of the state.
In an example of text book vote management, Fine Gael took the last three seats on offer with John Paul Phelan, Phil Hogan and Pat Deering winning in that order.
Beforehand, Labours Ann Phelan had topped the poll with over 14,000 votes and was elected at 3.30pm, Sunday along with Fianna Fail’s John McGuinness.
Ms Phelan, from Graignamanagh, became only the second woman from the constituency to be elected to Dail Eireann - and the first ever to top the poll. She gained considerably from transfers from her running mate, Des Hurley from Carlow.
It was an emotional occasion for her personally, and one of the driving forces behind her campaign was to no longer see our young people emigrate. She spoke with her daughter in Perth, Australia via skype on a lap top at the count centre just moments before being held shoulder high and proclaimed a Labour TD for Carlow/Kilkenny - the first since the legendary days of former Ceann Comhairle Seamus Pattision.
John McGuinness gained from the transfers of Jennifer Murnane O’Connor - a running mate in Carlow - and always looked safe to hold one of the three outgoing Fianna Fail seats but had to wait until the twelfth count - as did Ann Phelan.
John Pual Phelan - who topped the poll on the first count - had a nerve wracking 24 hours to contend with before being elected. He then romped home and as the surplus would not benefit Bobby Aylward, both Phil Hogan and Pat Deering - the final two Fine Gael TD’s were elected.
John Paul Phelan came so close in 2007 - losing out in a marathon count by 200 votes to former Green junior Minster Mary White.
Ms White was one of the early casualties in the count on Saturday.
The result was a personal triumph for Phil Hogan, who mastermined not just the local campaign but also the national one as Fine Gael have gained a record 70 plus seats for the 31st Dail.
Hogan will surely receive a top ministerial posting in the new government - the first time in almost forty years that Kilkenny will have a government minister. Four of the five TD’s are Kilkenny natives.
The count concluded relatively swiftly on Sunday, having gone on from 9am to midnight on Saturday. Early rumours of the arrival of Enda Kenny at 2pm today proved unfounded as tension mounted at the centre.
For Fianna Fail, it was a drop of almost 20% of their vote and Hogan declared that many of those votes had swung to Fine Gael.
Ann Phelan (Labour) - 14160
John McGuinness (FF) - 12630
John Paul Phelan (FG) - 12574
Phil Hogan (FG) - 11997
Pat Deering (FG) 10486
Bobby Aylward (FF) finished on 8,610. The quota was 12,291.
See this week’s Kilkenny People for full and extensive coverage and analysis of the election results. You can look back on the election as it unfolded by logging on to www.kilkennypeople.ie/news and selecting General Election Live or by twitter on KPElection2011.
Thanks to all our followers on twitter over the two days of the count, and for their warm compliments.