Stunning performances by newcomer Marty McDermott (Fianna Fáil) and former councillor Tony Waldron (Independent) and a tremendous poll-topping show of strength by Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice (Fianna Fáil) stand out when one reflects on a fascinating election in the large Roscommon Municipal Area.
With Cllr. Orla Leyden once again polling well, Fianna Fáil were celebrating a very impressive three-seat haul, but it was a day to forget for Fine Gael, with the party embarrassingly failing to win a seat in a six-seat area encompassing the county town.
Fine Gael’s failure to run a candidate in the general Mid-Roscommon area proved to be as disastrous as had been feared, with lone party candidate Gerry Coffey – who polled a very respectable 843 – left isolated and vulnerable to a strong line-up of Independents and Fianna Fáil candidates.
The election here was also notable for the fact that sitting Independent councillor Domnick Connolly lost his seat. Cllr. Connolly was philosophical about the loss, acknowledging that strong campaigns by Marty McDermott and Tony Waldron had applied extra pressure on him this time around. Sitting Independent councillor Kathleen Shanagher was re-elected with a huge vote – building on her success in 2014 – and fellow Independent Nigel Dineen also retained his seat, proving to be transfer-friendly and eventually reaching the quota to take the fourth seat.
Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice topped the poll again, this time with a tremendous first preference vote of 1,962. Cllr. Kathleen Shanagher also polled spectacularly (1,460). A contender for performance of the day countywide was that of Independent candidate Tony Waldron, the former Fianna Fáil councillor storming back into the chamber with a massive 1,333 votes.
Cllr. Domnick Connolly (634) lost out on this occasion and there was disappointment too for Seamus O’Brien of Sinn Fein (463). Much further back were Independents Padraig Morris (185) and John Groarke (76).
With Cllr. Fitzmaurice having a huge surplus on the first count, and with Cllr. Shanagher and Tony Waldron also elected early in proceedings, that left three seats to be filled. It was clear from early tallies that Fianna Fáil newcomer Marty McDermott was having a sensational electoral debut. His first preference total was 1,173, with Cllr. Leyden on 1,199, an increase on her 2014 vote. That meant three seats in the bag for Fianna Fáil. Meanwhile, sitting Independent Cllr. Nigel Dineen took the fourth seat, joining Shanagher and Waldron in a show of force by Independents!