There were jubilant scenes after Bobby Aylward was announced winner of the Carlow-Kilkenny Dail by-election at 2.12am this morning by returning officer, Maria Garahy.
He was hoisted shoulder high by his brothers and other family members and the cheers filled the huge auditorium.
In the lead up to the election, Mr Aylward said he had unfinished business after losing his seat in the 2013 general election.
He is back with a bang and in the end had almost 5,000 votes to spare over his main rival, Cllr David Fitzgerald of Fine Gael.
It was a stunning performance and Aylward picked up votes everywhere, completely overshadowing the rest of the field. Fianna Fail leader, Michael Martin, travelled to be with Deputy Aylward at the count centre and said that the Aylwards were genuine people, embedded in the community with strong family values. He added that Fianna Fail had picked up on the anger among the electorate over crime, water charges and the unfairness of the recovery with Dublin receiving the benefits and Carlow-Kilkenny struggling.
Mr Aylward led from pillar to post and was never under any pressure and it proves the Alyward clan still have serious drawing power. During the count, Kilkenny hurlers, Michael and Colin Fennelly arrived at the count with Bobby’s son, Bobby jnr after a match which the new TD had attended.
In the ninth and final count, Cllr Kathleen Funchion’s 16,437 votes were distributed between Aylward who received 3,703 giving him a total of 26,529 and Fitzgerald received 2,757 of Funchion’s transfers giving him a final total of 21,632.
New candidate, Cllr Pat McKee (Renua) surprised many by coming 4th with 9,269 votes when eliminated.
It was a disappointing performance by Labour. Their candidate, Cllr Willie Quinn polled just over 7% of the first preference share.
Defeated Fine Gael candidate, David Fitzgerald congratulated Mr Aylward on his success and thanked everyone involved in his own campaign.
“From the very beginning of this campaign I committed to working as hard as I could, and in hurling terms, leaving it all on the pitch. I could not have asked for more from myself, my family and those who canvassed alongside me. I would like to thank the whole Fine Gael team, including An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, all of the Fine Gael ministers who visited the constituency and Deputy Pat Deering, Deputy John Paul Phelan and Senator Pat O’Neill whose support I greatly appreciate.
“I would particularly like to thank my wife Paula, my children Robert, Victoria, Alexis and Holly, as well as my friends and extended family,” he said