LIVE UPDATES DAY TWO: Athlone/Moate local election count

* This was our live blog from day two (Sunday) of the local election count in Westmeath. You can find our updates from Saturday here and from Monday here.

11.25pm: The count centre in Moate is rapidly emptying, as counting is over for the night. We'll be back tomorrow morning with more updates here on in relation to that fifth and last Athlone seat.

So, to recap the day's events; Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, Frankie Keena, Aengus O'Rourke and John Dolan were elected today and, with one more seat to be filled, here's the current vote totals of the six remaining Athlone candidates, in order:

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 632

Conor Dowling-Linehan (Sinn Féin): 599

Tom Cleary (Non-Party): 598

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 553

Catrina O'Donohoe (Irish Freedom Party): 388

The contest in the Moate local electoral area was the first - and so far only - one to conclude in Westmeath. It's a case of 'as you were' in Moate, with sitting councillors Tom Farrell, Vinny McCormack, Liam McDaniel and Johnnie Penrose all re-elected.

11.20pm: The sixth Athlone count saw the distribution of the 249 votes amassed by Labour candidate Ray Lennon. Here's where they went:

Tom Cleary (Non-Party): 598 (+44)

Conor Dowling-Linehan (Sinn Féin): 599 (+20)

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 553 (+36)

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 632 (+31)

Ruairi Keyes (Fine Gael): 329 (+33)

Catrina O'Donohoe (Irish Freedom Party): 388 (+7)

The lowest placed candidate, Ruairi Keyes, has now been eliminated, and returning officer Pat Murtagh announced that his 329 votes will now be distributed - starting at 9am tomorrow.

11.15pm: We've just had the results of the sixth count in the Athlone electoral area, and now the remainder of the counting has been postponed until 9am tomorrow. Full results of the sixth count to follow...

11.05pm: Earlier we floated the possibility of a recount in the close contest for the last Athlone seat. That may or may not happen, but what's certain is that there will be a recount in the Mullingar electoral area, where there's understood to be just a single-digit number of votes separating Julie McCourt of Sinn Féin and Gerry Heery of Fine Gael.

10.55pm: After the fifth Athlone count Paul Hogan remains best-placed to take that last seat, but Sinn Féin's Conor Dowling-Linehan and Independent Tom Cleary both told us they're not throwing in the towel in relation to it just yet.

Tom Cleary feels he may do well from Ray Lennon's transfers, which are now being assigned, and he said that if Louise Heavin is eliminated he's hopeful he might pick up a bunch of second preferences from her voters also.

10.50pm: Pat Murtagh, the returning officer here in Moate, has told us that the count staff will be finishing up by midnight, which means we won't have a final result tonight in relation to fifth and last Athlone seat.

Counting has been underway here since 9am. Mr Murtagh told us that, understandably, everyone working at the count centre is exhausted and, with productivity levels dipping, the staff won't be in a position to continue beyond midnight.


The fifth count in the Athlone area, which involved the redistribution of votes from Fine Gael's John Dolan, is in:

Tom Cleary (Non-Party): 554 (+8)

Conor Dowling-Linehan (Sinn Féin): 579 (+0)

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 517 (+9)

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 601 (11)

Ruairi Keyes (Fine Gael): 296 (+12)

Ray Lennon (Labour): 249 (+4)

Catrina O'Donohoe (Irish Freedom Party): 381 (+4)

As the candidate with the fewest votes, Ray Lennon is eliminated. His 249 votes will be distributed between the remaining candidates soon. (Hopefully)

9.55pm: Mullingar Green Party councillor Hazel Smyth failed to secure re-election today, and, after that fourth count, it appears likely that the party's other Westmeath councillor, Athlone's Louise Heavin, will also lose her seat.

The elimination of the candidates below her is unlikely to see Heavin pick up enough transfers to make up the necessary ground on Cleary, Dowling-Linehan or Hogan.

If she does lose her seat, it will mean there will be no female county councillors in either the Athlone or Moate areas of Westmeath.

9.50pm: With one seat left to be filled, here's the result of the fourth count in the Athlone electoral area. It saw Aengus O'Rourke's surplus of 95 votes distributed as follows:

Tom Cleary (Non-Party): 546 (+16)

Conor Dowling-Linehan (Sinn Féin): 579 (+8)

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 508 (+19)

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 590 (+25)

Ruairi Keyes (Fine Gael): 284 (+13)

Ray Lennon (Labour): 245 (+9)

Catrina O'Donohoe (Irish Freedom Party): 377 (+5)

None of the remaining candidates were eliminated on this count, so now John Dolan's surplus of 48 votes is to be distributed.

9.45pm: The fourth count for the Athlone area is in, and while no one else has been elected (and no one eliminated), the big story is that Independent Ireland's Paul Hogan has leapfrogged Sinn Féin's Conor Dowling-Linehan into that elusive fifth space spot. Hogan currently sits at 590 votes, 11 ahead of Dowling-Linehan at 579. More details to follow soon...

9.20pm: We're still waiting on the fourth count in the Athlone electoral area, which involves the distribution of Aengus O'Rourke's surplus of 95 votes.

9.15pm: Let's go back to the race in the Moate electoral area for a moment. Just after the result of the final count was announced, a disappointed Michael O'Brien (Independent) gave his reaction to coming fifth, behind the four sitting councillors who were each re-elected.

"We went with the message locally that Moate needs a councillor, and a lot of people rallied behind that, but unfortunately we were a couple of hundred votes shy in the end," said O'Brien.

"We needed to do that bit better in Moate town in particular. I'm disappointed, but I have no regrets. We couldn't have put any more into it.

"We ran a very good campaign, we worked very hard, and were just shy of 1,500 votes at the final count. I'd like to thank my campaign team, my family and my girlfriend for all their support throughout the campaign."

8.55pm: Sorca Clarke, the Sinn Féin TD for Longford-Westmeath has arrived at the count centre here in Moate. Speaking in Dublin earlier, her party's leader, Mary Lou McDonald, acknowledged that this had been a disappointing local election for Sinn Féin, saying "it wasn't our day". It remains to be seen if the party's local candidate, Conor Dowling-Linehan, can claim the last of the five seats in the Athlone area.

8.40pm: One of the winners of this local election count in Moate is Supermac's. The eatery on Main Street has been doing a busy trade with many of the election count attendees, including your two correspondents. Political reporting is hungry work!

8.30pm: Here's the state of play: After three counts in Athlone, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, Frankie Keena, Aengus O'Rourke and John Dolan have been elected. There's only one seat left to be filled, but that contest is expected to go down to the wire, so we're likely to be here for a while yet.

The dreaded 'r' word, recount, has even been tossed about once or twice in connection with the Athlone race, but, after two lengthy days in count centres, we're hoping it won't come to that!

In the battle for the fifth Athlone seat, Conor Dowling-Linehan of Sinn Féin is still leading (571 votes), but Paul Hogan has gained ground on him and is now just six votes behind, on 565. Then comes Tom Cleary, on 530, with Louise Heavin further back, on 489.

Catrina O'Donohoe, Ruairi Keyes, and Ray Lennon are still to be eliminated. We'll see where their transfers go, but the speculation here is that Hogan, even though he's marginally behind Dowling-Linehan at present, could be in the strongest position to claim that last seat.

8.02pm: Fine Gael Cllr John Dolan has been officially re-elected to Westmeath County Council, meaning that four of the five seats up for grabs have been filled. All eyes turn to that elusive final seat, with Cleary, Dowling-Linehan, Heavin, and Hogan all still in with a shout.


The third count in the Athlone area, which involved the redistribution of votes from Fianna Fáil's Frankie Keena, is in:

Tom Cleary (Non-Party): 530 (+23)

John Dolan (Fine Gael): 1,639 (+71)

Conor Dowling-Linehan (Sinn Féin): 571 (+8)

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 489 (+12)

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 565 (+35)

Ruairi Keyes (Fine Gael): 271 (+11)

Ray Lennon (Labour): 236 (+20)

Catrina O'Donohoe (Irish Freedom Party): 372 (+9)

Non-transferable: 89

Having exceeded the quota, John Dolan for Fine Gael has been officially elected, joining 'Boxer' Moran, Frankie Keena and Aengus O'Rourke. O'Rourke's surplus of 95 will now be distributed.

7.15pm: So, after the distribution of 'Boxer' Moran's giant surplus, we have two more councillors elected, Keena and O'Rourke, while John Dolan will also be re-elected this evening.

So with the outcome of one seat - that fifth and final seat - still up in the air, here's the current order of the remaining candidates:

Conor Dowling-Linehan (Sinn Féin): 563

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 530

Tom Cleary (Non-Party): 507

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 477

Catrina O'Donohoe (Irish Freedom Party): 363

Ruairi Keyes (Fine Gael): 260

Ray Lennon (Labour): 216

Looking at those numbers,it's clear that Louise Heavin is facing an uphill struggle to retain her council seat.

The Mount Temple native made history in 2019 when she became the first Green Party representative to be elected to the council in Athlone.

6.30pm: The two Fianna Fáil councillors in Athlone, Aengus O'Rourke and Frankie Keena, pictured after both were elected on the second count.

6.25pm: Here's the result of the second count in the Athlone area, which saw the distribution of 'Boxer' Moran's surplus of 2,191 votes.

Tom Cleary (Non-Party): 507 (+191)

John Dolan (Fine Gael): 1,568 (+354)

Conor Dowling-Linehan (Sinn Féin): 563 (+118)

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 477 (+113)

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 530 (+220)

Frankie Keena (Fianna Fáil): 1,780 (+409)

Ruairi Keyes (Fine Gael): 260 (+71)

Ray Lennon (Labour): 216 (+67)

Catrina O'Donohoe (Irish Freedom Party): 363 (+85)

Aengus O'Rourke (Fianna Fáil): 1,686 (+563)

Non-transferable: 274

Having exceeded the quota, Frankie Keena and Aengus O'Rourke were officially elected, joining 'Boxer' Moran as the second and third councillors to be elected to the five-seat Athlone area. Frankie Keena's surplus of 189 will now be distributed.

6.20pm: The long-awaited result of the second count in the Athlone area is in, and has resulted in the election of Fianna Fáil duo Frankie Keena and Aengus O'Rourke.

Full details to follow....

5.30pm: The Green Party's Louise Heavin has arrived at the count centre in Moate for the first time today, as we await the result of the second count in the Athlone area.

Frankie Keena and Aengus O'Rourke are both likely to be elected on the second count, and it's quite possible that John Dolan will be elected on the second count also.

It will all then come down to the battle for the last Athlone seat, between Heavin, Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland), Tom Cleary (Non-Party) and Conor Dowling-Linehan (Sinn Féin).

5.20pm: A three-generation celebration: Newly re-elected Fianna Fáil councillor for the Moate electoral area, Liam McDaniel, with his daughter Nicola and granddaughter Pearl.

Cllr Liam McDaniel with his daughter Nicola, and granddaughter Pearl.

5.10pm: The second count for the Athlone area, which will be intriguing as it will see the distribution of Kevin 'Boxer' Moran's 2,000+ surplus votes, is expected soon.

5.05pm: The fifth and final count for the Moate electoral area has confirmed the re-election of the four sitting councillors in the area.

This count saw the distribution of Paul Hogan's 873 votes. And here's where they went:

Liam McDaniel (Fianna Fáil): 1,826 (+268)

Michael O'Brien (Non-Party): 1,465 (+212)

Johnnie Penrose (Labour): 1,851 (+188)

Having exceeded the quota, Penrose and McDaniel were re-elected, and will join Tom Farrell (FG) and Vinny McCormack (FF) as councillors for the Moate-area.

Once again, there will be no councillor from or living in the town of Moate itself.

5.00pm: The fifth count for the Moate area is in and it results in the election of the two remaining councillors for the area. Johnnie Penrose (Labour) is elected, followed by Fianna Fáil's Liam McDaniel. Moate resident Michael O’Brien misses out again. Details to follow...

4.45pm: The destiny of the fifth seat in Athlone has been one of the big talking points since early yesterday, and the outcome won't become clearer until we start to here where 'Boxer' Moran's surplus votes are going. Some are saying that first-time candidate Tom Cleary's chances of taking that seat shouldn't be ruled out. We'll have to wait and see.

4.40pm: The sorting of the votes started in TUS Athlone yesterday morning - which already seems like a long time ago! Photos of some of the local candidates, which were taken by Ashley Cahill at the Athlone International Arena yesterday, can be viewed here.

4.35pm: If you're looking for updates on the Kinnegad and Mullingar electoral areas of Westmeath County Council, they're being covered in a live blog by our sister paper the Westmeath Examiner here.

4.30pm: Fianna Fáil's Aengus O'Rourke is confident he'll get elected on the second count, as approximately 1,000 of Boxer's votes look to be transferring over to him.

Commenting on Boxer's dominant performance, O'Rourke said: "It's incredible, I wasn't expecting it. It'll see me elected on the second count."

O'Rourke first ran in the local elections in 2009, and he said that the difference in campaigning back then versus now is stark: "The theme at the doorsteps back then was about how many of our loved ones were leaving to work abroad. There was an international recession, an economic and an actual depression.

“Now, anyone who wants a job can have a job. All the economic pointers are in the right direction. Of course, there are still challenges.

“The two biggest challenges I’ve been hearing from this campaign is housing and immigration – but people at the doors are still very respectful. They appreciated me calling.

“I printed out 8,000 leaflets and distributed 7,500 of them by hand! I really enjoyed the engagement of this campaign,” he said.

Cllr Aengus O'Rourke at the count centre in Moate this evening.

4.05pm: Independent candidate Michael O'Brien is currently fifth in the four-seater Moate area, 305 votes behind sitting councillor Liam McDaniel (FF) from Kilbeggan.

The Moate man is downbeat about his chances of catching McDaniel - he feels the gap is likely to be too large and that he needed a bigger vote from the Moate town area in order to get over the line.

Moate Independent candidate Michael O'Brien (centre) looking on at the count centre this afternoon.

3.45pm: Vinny McCormack being congratulated on his re-election to the Moate area of Westmeath County Council. First elected in 2019, the Fianna Fáil representative from Ballymore increased his vote by 2.6% this time around.

Vinny McCormack after his re-election to Westmeath County Council was made official this afternoon.


The fourth count in the Moate area, which involved the redistribution of votes for Sinn Féin's John Lawlor, is in:

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 873 (+94)

Vinny McCormack (Fianna Fáil): 1,833 (+36)

Liam McDaniel (Fianna Fáil): 1,558 (+36)

Michael O'Brien (Non-Party): 1,253 (+79)

Johnnie Penrose (Labour): 1,663 (+126)

The lowest placed candidate from this count, Independent Ireland's Paul Hogan, was eliminated, and his 873 votes will now be distributed.

So Hogan is officially out of the reckoning in the Moate area, but, having run in the Athlone area also, he remains a contender for the fifth and final seat there.

3.35pm: Ballymore's Vinny McCormack has just become the second councillor elected to the four-seater Moate area. He was elected on the fourth count, with 1,833 votes. Full count to follow.

3pm: Photographer Paulina Kusa captured this great shot of the celebrations when Kevin 'Boxer' Moran was elected on the first count a short time ago:

Joy unconfined for Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, whose total vote of 3,782 was almost two and a half times the quota for the Athlone electoral area. Photo: Paulina Kusa.


The third count in the Moate area, which involved the redistribution of votes for Irish Freedom Party candidate Shane Lynam is in:

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 779 (+82)

John Lawlor (Sinn Féin): 445 (+21)

Vinny McCormack (Fianna Fáil): 1,797 (+20)

Liam McDaniel (Fianna Fáil): 1,522 (+10)

Michael O'Brien (Non-Party): 1,174 (+81)

Johnnie Penrose (Labour): 1,537 (+21)

The lowest placed candidate from this count, Sinn Féin's John Lawlor, was eliminated, and his 445 votes will now be distributed. Vinny McCormack will need 28 of those second preferences if he's to be elected on the fourth count.

2.20pm: Here are the results of the first count for the Athlone electoral area of Westmeath County Council.

Electorate: 20,464

Total Poll: 9,611

Spoiled votes: 70

Valid poll: 9,541

Quota: 1,591

Seats: 5

Tom Cleary (Non-Party): 316

John Dolan (Fine Gael): 1,214

Conor Dowling-Linehan (Sinn Féin): 445

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 364

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 310

Frankie Keena (Fianna Fáil): 1,371

Ruairi Keyes (Fine Gael): 189

Ray Lennon (Labour): 149

Kevin 'Boxer' Moran: 3,782

Catrina O'Donohoe (Irish Freedom Party): 278

Aengus O'Rourke (Fianna Fáil): 1,123

Kevin 'Boxer' Moran is duly elected on the first count, and his ample surplus of 2,191 votes will now be distributed.

2.10pm: There were raucous celebrations here in Moate in the last few minutes with the election of Kevin 'Boxer' Moran on the first count in the Athlone electoral area. The quota was 1,591 and 'Boxer' got just under two and half times that number of votes; an astonishing 3,782 first preferences.

Full results of the first count to follow...

2pm: We're expecting the first count for the Athlone area shortly.

1.35pm: Things are continuing to move slowly at Moate Community Centre. 'Boxer' Moran reckons it will be 2 or 2.30pm before the result of the first Athlone count will be announced.

Fine Gael Government Minister Peter Burke and Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy are among those who have been mingling here at the count centre.

1.10pm: Kevin 'Boxer' Moran has arrived at the count centre in Moate as we await the result of the first count for the Athlone area, which will seem him elected with a whopping total of more than 3,700 first preferences. A number of his relatives and supporters are also present, so we expect some lively celebrations when that first count result is announced!

1:07pm: Bit more hustle and bustle here in Moate, but everyone is still waiting on that Athlone first count...

12.50pm: The second count is in for the Moate electoral area - but it hasn't elected a second councillor.

It involved the distribution of Tom Farrell's surplus of 360 votes. Here's where they went:

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 697 (+23)

John Lawlor (Sinn Féin): 424 (+8)

Shane Lynam (Irish Freedom Party): 277 (+7)

Vinny McCormack (Fianna Fáil): 1,777 (+147)

Liam McDaniel (Fianna Fáil): 1,512 (+32)

Michael O'Brien (Non-Party): 1,093 (+68)

Johnnie Penrose (Labour): 1,516 (+75)

The lowest placed candidate, Shane Lynam, was eliminated on the second count, and his 277 votes will now be distributed. Vinny McCormack will need 48 of those second preferences if he's to be elected on the third count.

12:20pm: Just over three hours since everyone arrived back in Moate Community Centre and the first count for the Athlone area is not expected until nearing 2pm.

At the moment, the 'doubtful' Athlone votes are still being adjudicated upon. Some votes which have been marked incorrectly will be deemed as 'spoiled'. Several candidates are watching the proceedings closely - Tom Cleary, Frankie Keena, Paul Hogan, John Dolan, as well as Fine Gael party member and former councillor Alan Shaw.

11.05am: After an anticlimactic evening yesterday, in which no councillors were elected here in Moate, we're expecting more excitement and intrigue today.

In Athlone, 'Boxer' Moran, Aengus O'Rourke, Frankie Keena and John Dolan look set to be re-elected but there's significant uncertainty about the destiny of the fifth Athlone seat. Boxer's surplus will be key to that, and its expected to be very close, with Paul Hogan, Louise Heavin, Tom Cleary and Conor Dowling-Linehan all likely to battle it out for that one seat.

The first of the four seats in Moate has been filled, with the re-election of Tom Farrell. Vinny McCormack will be the second councillor elected in Moate -- both he and Tom Farrell increased their vote since 2019 -- and the safe bet is on sitting councillors Liam McDaniel and Johnnie Penrose being re-elected also, though Moate's Michael O'Brien will be hoping that if transfers break in his favour to bring him into contention for the fourth and final seat.

Shane Lynam, the Irish Freedom Party candidate from Moate, had the lowest number of first preferences among the eight candidates (270) and is set to be eliminated on the second count - his second preferences could give O'Brien a boost.

10.55am: Consistency is key in Moate! Voter turnout in the Moate area this year is 56.4%, the exact same figure as the last local elections in 2019.

As for Tom Farrell, his share of the first preference votes this year is 23.7%, compared to 18.1% in 2019.

10.50am: The adjudication of doubtful ballots in the Athlone area is continuing, with Paul Hogan and Tom Cleary among those watching that process. Shortly after it's completed, we should have the first count for the Athlone area, which will see the election of Kevin 'Boxer' Moran by a landslide. 'Boxer' hasn't arrived here yet but his son Jamie is in attendance.

10.30am: Tom Farrell pictured with some of his supporters after his election in Moate this morning. Photo by Eilis Ryan:

10.25am: On being re-elected on the first count, Fine Gael's Tom Farrell said that “I’m absolutely delighted, and I’d like to thank my family, and everybody who voted for me. Thanks to everyone for trusting me for the next five years.”

"It’s been a great team effort. It’s all about the people – I’ve been elected to serve the community.”

He also emphasised the importance of young people continuing to come out and vote: "It’s very important that young people keep voting. I found that on the doorsteps, some young people are absolutely brilliant, and its important that everybody votes. We fought hard to be able to vote."


Electorate: 16,297

Total vote: 9,193

Invalid votes: 72

Valid votes: 9121

Quota: 1,825

Tom Farrell (Fine Gael): 2,185

Paul Hogan (Independent Ireland): 674

John Lawlor (Sinn Féin): 416

Shane Lynam (Irish Freedom Party): 270

Vinny McCormack (Fianna Fáil): 1,630

Liam McDaniel (Fianna Fáil): 1,480

Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 1,025

Johnny Penrose (Labour): 1,441

Tom Farrell's vote exceeded the quota and he is elected on the first count. His surplus of 360 votes will now be distributed among the other candidates.

10.05am: The first count for the Moate area is in. Fine Gael Cllr Tom Farrell tops the poll and is re-elected. Celebrations ensue and he is hoisted up on the shoulders of his supporters. Full count details to follow soon...

9.45am: Good morning from Moate Community Centre, Eve Conway here. We're just about to get underway, with the Moate first count results coming any minute now. Myself and Adrian Cusack will be bringing you all the live updates throughout the day.