Europe

Irish election: Winners and losers take centre stage

Irish elections Image copyright PAUL FAITH

This week, Ireland is counting the votes of its European elections, local elections and a referendum on divorce.

While the divorce referendum passed with a cool 82.1% margin, all the seats in the local and EU elections have yet to be filled.

But some candidates have already made history.

Take the case of Patrick Feeney, who scored a victory of epic, Eddie the Eagle proportions.

The independent candidate for Galway City Central garnered just one first preference vote.

Happily, his vote increased 100 % on the second count... then he had two.

Was his the lowest vote in Irish electoral history?

Mr Feeney could find some consolation in his other electoral area - he stood in two - and he won 32 votes in Connnemara South.

"He must have a very, very small family," one person tweeted, picturing the scene at the Galway count, as he stood surrounded by family and friends who had not voted for him.

Mr Feeney is nothing if not optimistic. But he appears to be on a downward slide.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Has Patrick Feeney made Irish election history?

He also made a bid to get on the ballot papers for last year's Irish presidential election. It was not to be.

His claims that he wanted to be the "innovation president of Ireland" and "a break from the status quo" fell on deaf ears.

It was a happier ending for another history maker - Gogglebox Ireland star Yemi Adenuga.

She became the first Nigerian woman to take a seat on Meath County Council and is looking forward to her new role representing Fine Gael.

Gogglebox certainly got her name out there, she said, but now she has a new role.

"It's an exciting time for migrants," she said.

"I'm told there's never been a black female councillor in Ireland. It's awesome and an opening to other people who are interested in contributing," Ms Adenuga told the Irish Independent.

She and her family moved from Nigeria to Ireland in 2000 and she has been living in Navan since 2004.

Diversity in Ireland is not just a word, it's action, she said, describing her adopted country as "very open and accepting".

Mixed martial arts expert Paddy Holohan fancied he had a fighting chance when he went into election battle in Dublin.

He clinched a seat in Tallaght South representing Sinn Féin.

Predictably he played on his line of expertise in his candidate literature, promising that he would be "fighting for you" - the voter.

While his party boasted that he topped the poll, he went for a more humble response.

Image copyright Niall Carson/PA
Image caption More than a fighting chance? Paddy Holohan with his son Seamus at the election count

Another candidate fighting their way to a seat in the local elections was Kenneth Egan, a former amateur boxer who claimed silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Fine Gael candidate was elected at the eighth count in his area of Clondalkin, retaining the seat he first won in 2014.

Since his retirement from boxing, the councillor has spoken publicly about his battle with alcoholism and his road to recovery.

The Simpsons demographic

With more than 10,000 followers, Facebook page Ireland Simpsons Fans has become a bizarre window into Irish current affairs.

The page has previously drawn attention for its Brexit commentary, and now seems to have played a hand in the election of Green Party candidate Hazel Chu, elected at the first count in Dublin City Council's Pembroke local area.

After her victory, Ms Chu thanked fellow Simpsons fans for their support during the campaign.

"I thankfully got elected on Saturday," she wrote on Facebook, "So I guess the Chu Chu train has arrived in the station."

Earlier in her campaign, the councillor - who was running in the local election for the first time - was featured as part of a meme on the page.

Another first-time candidate in Dublin who was not so lucky was Cathal Haughey, whose grandfather Charlie Haughey served as Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) in the 1980s and 1990s.

He failed to secure a seat in the Clontarf area after a number of Fianna Fáil votes were reportedly spoiled.

The Irish Independent reported that about 100 ballots in the area were ruined by voters placing ticks in the boxes for both of the party's candidates.

Cathal Haughey was beaten by Social Democrats candidate Catherine Stocker in the Clontarf area, who won out by less than 90 votes.

Maria Bailey

But another politician who captured the headlines this week was not even standing.

Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey found herself centre stage in Ireland when a story broke about her decision to sue the Dean Hotel in Dublin for injuries after she fell off a swing.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the story had caused the party "reputational damage" and candidates had been questioned over it while out canvassing.

Details from her claim were published last week, causing significant embarrassment for her government in the run-up to elections.

Ms Bailey has since decided to withdraw her claim.

But that was not the end.

In an RTE radio interview with Sean O'Rourke on Monday, she claimed she had been the subject of "click bait" by "keyboard warriors" and had been hounded to the extent that she could not go home and had to lock herself away for three days.

Ms Bailey said she hurt herself falling off the swing while holding bottles in her hands.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Maria Bailey has dropped her legal action against a Dublin hotel

She described how she needed painkillers and she was, she pointed out, "a citizen of this state too".

Afterwards, Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he believed Ms Bailey's radio interview was "ill-judged in both tone and content".

Ms Bailey is due to meet the Taoiseach "in the near future".

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