12 March 2005

BreakingNews.ie

Royal win for McEntee in by-election

12/03/2005 - 22:10:13



Fine Gael tonight crowned a new Dáil TD in the Royal County after Shane McEntee secured a historic victory in his first ever election.

Fianna Fáil, who were aiming for a record fourth seat in the Meath constituency, were beaten on first preference votes for the first time since 1927.

A lower than expected 40% voter turnout was blamed for affecting traditional party support for pre-poll favourite Shane Cassells.

Sinn Féin managed to increase their vote in the five seater by 30% since 2002, despite recent bad publicity created by criminality links to the party.

Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness described the by-election as one of the most critical for the party in 20 years and said the performance was a springboard for local and Westminster elections in Northern Ireland in May.

It was after 8pm when Returning Officer Maire Teehan declared Mr McEntee elected without reaching the quota after he had outstripped Mr Cassells by nearly 300 votes.

The Nobber publican, 47, was carried shoulder high at the back of the packed count centre in Simonstown Gaels GAA club in Navan.

Senator Frank Feighan led a chorus of “Oh what a beautiful morning” as a tricolour flag with a picture of Michael Collins was hoisted over Mr McEntee’s head.

Mr McEntee said: “I’d like to thank Fine Gael for giving me the chance to contest this election and I promise I won’t let down the thousands of people who I met and who voted for me.”

Party leader Enda Kenny said he was delighted that the party got out its core vote in the sprawling constituency.

“A lot of people did not want to give four seats to Fianna Fáil in Meath,” he said.

The vacancy was created by the departure of former Taoiseach John Bruton to Washington as EU Ambassador last year.

The Labour Party also performed well with over 10% of the vote gained by new candidate Councillor Dominic Hannigan.

The Labour party leader predicted that Councillor Hannigan would win a seat at the next general election when the constituency is redrawn around his home base as East Meath.

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