LIVE UPDATES DAY TWO: Westmeath council elections - Athlone and Moate areas

Story by Adrian Cusack

Sunday, 26th May, 2019 11:26am

LIVE UPDATES DAY TWO: Westmeath council elections - Athlone and Moate areas

The scene at the count centre in Moate this morning (Sunday)

12.10am: And that’s a wrap! Thanks for following our live updates throughout the weekend. Please support local journalism by picking up the Westmeath Independent. In Wednesday's edition we’ll have lots more reaction, photos, and interviews with all the main players in the election. 

Lastly, here’s a breakdown of vote share by party:

In the Athlone area: Fianna Fáil will be delighted with a performance which saw the party claim 33.9% of the vote. Independents had the next biggest share, with more than one in four Athlone voters (25.9%) opting to give a non-party candidate a first preference. Fine Gael took 21.5%. Interestingly, the Green Party outperformed Sinn Fein here, taking 6.9% to Sinn Fein’s 6.1%. The Social Democrats and Aontu were both on 2.3%, while Renua Ireland had a 1% share of the vote.

In the Moate area: Fianna Fáil was also the big winner here, with 41.2%. Fine Gael had 25.6%, Labour were on 14.8%, and Independents took 14.7% of the first preferences.

11pm: The Moran clan celebrate the election of Jamie Moran (20), son of Minister of State Kevin 'Boxer' Moran:

11pm: An emotional moment for Green Party candidate Louise Heavin as she secures election to Westmeath County Council. Photo Ann Hennessy:

10.50pm:

ELEVENTH AND FINAL COUNT – ATHLONE AREA

Distribution of Padraig Hegarty’s 716 votes:

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 1,071 (+132)
Jamie Moran (Non-Party): 1,615 (+195)
Alan Shaw (Fine Gael): 794 (+40)

Moran is elected having exceeded the quota, while Heavin is elected without reaching the quota.

It's believed that both have made history, with Heavin becoming Athlone's first ever Green Party councillor, and Moran, at the age of 20, becoming the youngest-ever councillor for the Athlone area. 

10.45pm: The eleventh and final count is in, resulting in the election of Jamie Moran and Louise Heavin. The 2019 local elections have seen the election of the following five councillors for the Athlone area, in this order: Frankie Keena (FF), Aengus O’Rourke (FF), John Dolan (FG), Jamie Moran (Ind), and Louise Heavin (Greens). Details of the final count to follow shortly…

10.40pm: Paul Hogan told us that low turnout in certain areas, such as the Batteries on the west side of Athlone, was a key factor in his failure to secure re-election.  

10.35pm: We’re just awaiting the election of the final two councillors for the Athlone area, who will be two first-time candidates: Jamie Moran, son of Minister of State Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Mount Temple native Louise Heavin, of the Green Party. The final count is expected very soon. 

10pm: On the stroke of 10 o’clock, we had the tenth count in the Athlone electoral area, which involved the distribution of ten surplus votes for John Dolan. How’s that for synchronicity? 

The ten votes don’t elect a new councillor, however. Four of them went to Louise Heavin (now on 939), one went to Padraig Hegarty (716), three went to Jamie Moran (1,420) and two went to Alan Shaw (754). 

Hegarty has now been officially eliminated, so we’re going to see the distribution of his 716 votes. 

9.50pm Padraig Hegarty of Sinn Fein told us that running in the election had been a “brilliant” experience and he was very proud to have received 715 votes. 

“This won’t be the last time the Moate count centre has seen Padraig Hegarty. He will be back again,” he said.

9.45pm: We’re getting closer to the finishing line here in Moate. The ninth count – involving the distribution of Paul Hogan’s votes, has now been announced. Result of the count is as follows:

NINTH COUNT - ATHLONE AREA

Quota: 1,423

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 935 (+71)
Pádraig Hegarty (Sinn Féin): 715 (+110)
Jamie Moran (Non-Party): 1,417 (+179)
Alan Shaw (Fine Gael): 752 (+60)

No candidate reaches the quota on this count, so we will now see the distribution of John Dolan’s surplus of ten votes, held over from earlier, as these could, theoretically, put Jamie Moran over the line. 

Louise Heavin of the Greens has been picking up lots of transfers throughout the evening and is now all but guaranteed the fifth and final seat.

9.10pm: EIGHTH COUNT – ATHLONE AREA

Distribution of Michael O’Brien’s 429 votes. 

Quota: 1,423

Louise Heavin (Green Party): 864 (+93)
Pádraig Hegarty (Sinn Féin): 605 (+24)
Paul Hogan (Non-Party): 581 (+51)
Jamie Moran (Non-Party): 1,238 (+71)
Alan Shaw (Fine Gael): 692 (+69)

No candidate reaches the quota on this count. Hogan is eliminated as the lowest-placed candidate. 

9pm: We’ve just had the eighth count in the Athlone area, which hasn’t elected anyone, but has now resulted in the elimination of Paul Hogan. The 36-year-old loses his seat after 15 consecutive years as a councillor in Athlone.  

8.50pm: Victory! John Dolan celebrates his re-election to Westmeath County Council. Photo by Ann Hennessy

8.45pm: SEVENTH COUNT – ATHLONE AREA

Distribution of PJ Coghill’s 349 votes. 

Quota: 1,423
John Dolan (Fine Gael): 1,433 (+96)
Louise Heavin (Green Party): 771 (+40)
Pádraig Hegarty (Sinn Féin): 581 (+14)
Paul Hogan (Non-Party): 530 (+25)
Jamie Moran (Non-Party): 1,167 (+39)
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 429 (+35)
Alan Shaw (Fine Gael): 623 (+20)

Dolan surpasses the quota and is elected. O’Brien is eliminated and his 429 votes will now be redistributed.

8.35pm: On the seventh count, Fine Gael's John Dolan has become the third Athlone councillor to be elected. He suffered a very serious health scare in 2017, when his heart stopped at his home in Kilgarvan, Fardrum, and he said this win was a particularly "emotional" one for him as a result. Count details to follow…   

8.20pm: It’s been a long day here, but three of the five seats in the Athlone area are still to be filled. It looks like the next two will go to John Dolan and Jamie Moran. Most are predicting that the last seat will go to Louise Heavin. If all goes smoothly the counting will conclude tonight.

8pm: Photographer Ann Hennessy snapped this shot of Aengus O'Rourke celebrating after he was elected on the fifth count:

7.55pm: SIXTH COUNT – ATHLONE AREA

We’ve just had the sixth count for the Athlone area, but the distribution of Aengus O’Rourke’s surplus of 14 votes wasn’t enough to secure the election of the third councillor. 

Here’s where his 14 extra votes went:

Quota: 1,423

PJ Coghill (Non-Party): 349 (+2)
John Dolan (Fine Gael): 1,337 (+2)
Louise Heavin (Green Party): 731 (+2)
Pádraig Hegarty (Sinn Féin): 567 (no change)
Paul Hogan (Non-Party): 505 (+2)
Jamie Moran (Non-Party): 1,128 (+2)
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 394 (+2)
Alan Shaw (Fine Gael): 603 (+2)

The lowest-placed candidate, former councillor PJ Coghill from Glasson, has now been eliminated and his 349 votes will be distributed. 

7.40pm: FIFTH COUNT – ATHLONE AREA

Distribution of Noel McKervey’s 226 votes. 

Quota: 1,423

PJ Coghill (Non-Party): 347 (+19)
John Dolan (Fine Gael): 1,335 (+15)
Louise Heavin (Green Party): 729 (+23)
Pádraig Hegarty (Sinn Féin): 567 (+9)
Paul Hogan (Non-Party): 503 (+22)
Jamie Moran (Non-Party): 1,126 (+37)
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 392 (+12)
Aengus O’Rourke (Fianna Fáil): 1,437 (+34)
Alan Shaw (Fine Gael): 602 (+7)

O’Rourke surpasses the quota and is deemed elected, celebrating with his family and friends. His surplus of 14 votes will now be distributed. 

7.30pm: The fifth count in the Athlone electoral area has just been announced, and it sees the re-election of Aengus O’Rourke, who joins his Fianna Fáil running mate Frankie Keena as the first two councillors elected to the five-seat area. Details to follow...

7.10pm: FOURTH COUNT – ATHLONE AREA

Distribution of Fiona Lynam’s votes. 

Quota: 1,423

PJ Coghill (Non-Party): 328 (+3)
John Dolan (Fine Gael): 1,320 (+15)
Louise Heavin (Green Party): 706 (+79)
Pádraig Hegarty (Sinn Féin): 558 (+20)
Paul Hogan (Non-Party): 481 (+6)
Noel McKervey (Aontú): 226 (+3)
Jamie Moran (Non-Party): 1,089 (+17)
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 380 (+17)
Aengus O’Rourke (Fianna Fáil): 1,403 (+13)
Alan Shaw (Fine Gael): 594 (+16)

No candidate reached the quota on this count. Noel McKervey of Aontu has now been eliminated and his votes will be redistributed. 

7pm: MOATE ELECTORAL AREA - FINAL RESULT

The result for the Moate area after the fourth and final count: 

Vinny McCormack (Fianna Fáil): 1,595 (+237)
Liam McDaniel (Fianna Fáil): 1,597 (+69)
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 1,249 (+26)
Johnnie Penrose (Labour Party): 1,922 (+448)

Penrose exceeds the quota of 1,696 and is elected, while McDaniel and McCormack are deemed elected without reaching the quota. After five years on the council, Michael O’Brien misses out on re-election.

So the four councillors for the new Moate electoral area are: Tom Farrell, Johnnie Penrose, Vinny McCormack and Liam McDaniel.

6.50pm: The fourth count for the Moate area is in and it results in the election of the three remaining councillors for the area. Johnnie Penrose (Labour) is elected, followed by Fianna Fáilers Vinny McCormack and Liam McDaniel. Moate resident Michael O’Brien misses out. Details to follow...  

6.45pm: THIRD COUNT – ATHLONE AREA
Distribution of Donal Jackson, Imelda Geraghty and Tony Moran’s votes: 

Quota: 1,423

PJ Coghill (Non-Party): 325 (+7)
John Dolan (Fine Gael): 1,305 (+7)
Louise Heavin (Green Party): 627 (+23)
Pádraig Hegarty (Sinn Féin): 538 (+10)
Paul Hogan (Non-Party): 475 (+11)
Fiona Lynam (Social Democrats): 204 (+5)
Noel McKervey (Aontú): 223 (+25)
Jamie Moran (Non-Party): 1,072 (+30)
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 363 (+11)
Aengus O’Rourke (Fianna Fáil): 1,390 (+16)
Alan Shaw (Fine Gael): 578 (+4)

No candidate reached the quota on this count. Fiona Lynam of the Social Democrats has now been eliminated and her votes will be redistributed. 

6.35pm: The third count for the Athlone area is in. Details to follow… 

6.25pm: Mary O'Rourke has arrived at the count centre in Moate. Her son Aengus is certain to be re-elected to the council in Athlone, the only question is whether it will be on the third or fourth count.  

6.20pm: There's a bit of a lull in proceedings here, as we await the third Athlone-area count and fourth Moate-area count. It's not clear whether or not the counting will be concluded tonight but the staff working here say that's still their aim.  

6pm: Vinny McCormack has just arrived at the count centre and is being congratulated by well-wishers. It’s set to be a day of double celebrations for the Ballymore man, who is about to be elected to the Moate area and whose wife, Deirdre, gave birth to a baby girl in Mullingar Hospital in the early hours of the morning. Mother and baby doing well, according to Deirdre’s delighted parents, Ann and Paddy Egan.

5.45pm: SECOND COUNT - ATHLONE AREA

The second count for the Athlone area saw the redistribution of Frankie Keena’s surplus of 161 votes. Results as follows: 

Quota: 1,423

PJ Coghill (Non-Party): 318 (+7)
John Dolan (Fine Gael): 1,298 (+25)
Imelda Geraghty (Non-Party): 42 (unchanged)
Louise Heavin (Green Party): 604 (+11)
Pádraig Hegarty (Sinn Féin): 528 (+5)
Paul Hogan (Non-Party): 464 (+9)
Donal Jackson (Non-Party): 33 (+1)
Fiona Lynam (Social Democrats): 199 (+5)
Noel McKervey (Aontú): 198 (+2)
Tony Moran (Renua Ireland): 88 (+2)
Jamie Moran (Non-Party): 1,042 (+14)
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 352 (+8)
Aengus O’Rourke (Fianna Fáil): 1,374 (+60)
Alan Shaw (Fine Gael): 574 (+11)

No candidate has reached the quota on this count, so Jackson, Geraghty and Tony Moran have been eliminated and their votes will now be redistributed. 

5.40pm: The second count for the Athlone area is in. Details to follow.... 

5.30pm: Tom Farrell pictured celebrating his re-election, with Cllr John Dolan and TD Peter Burke. Photo: Ann Hennessy:

5pm: The third count is in for the Moate area and it sees the election of the first councillor to the area: Fine Gael’s Tom Farrell.

Here’s the result of the count, which saw the redistribution of the vote for Fine Gael’s Damien Clear:

Brian Crum (Fianna Fáil): 899 (+27)
Tom Farrell (Fine Gael): 1,806 (+218)
Vinny McCormack (Fianna Fáil): 1,358 (+26) 
Liam McDaniel (Fianna Fáil): 1,528 (+165)
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 1,223 (+34)
Johnnie Penrose (Labour Party): 1,474 (+134)

4.40pm: The voting turnout in the Athlone electoral area, at 45.2%, was significantly lower than in the predominantly rural Moate electoral area (56.4%).  

4.30pm: SECOND COUNT - MOATE ELECTORAL AREA

The second count in the Moate area, which involved the redistribution of votes for Independent Searlait Cabdi Ní Chianáin and Sinn Fein’s Peter Judge, is in: 

Damien Clear (Fine Gael): 644 (+37)
Brian Crum (Fianna Fáil): 872 (+20)
Thomas Farrell (Fine Gael): 1,588 (+21)
Vinny McCormack (Fianna Fáil): 1,332 (+19) 
Liam McDaniel (Fianna Fáil): 1,363 (+34)
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 1,199 (+126)
Johnnie Penrose (Labour Party): 1,340 (+78)

No candidate has reached the quota of 1,696 on the second count, so Fine Gael's Damien Clear is now being eliminated and his 644 votes are to be redistributed. Walderstown's Tom Farrell looks certain to be elected on the next count. 

4.20pm: Frankie Keena celebrates with supporters after topping the poll in Athlone. Photo by Ann Hennessy: 

4.10pm: FIRST COUNT – ATHLONE ELECTORAL AREA

Electorate: 19,157
Votes cast: 8,656
Invalid votes: 119
Total valid poll: 8,537
Quota: 1,423

PJ Coghill (Non-Party): 311
John Dolan (Fine Gael): 1,273
Imelda Geraghty (Non-Party): 42
Louise Heavin (Green Party): 593
Pádraig Hegarty (Sinn Féin): 522
Paul Hogan (Non-Party): 455
Donal Jackson (Non-Party): 32
Frankie Keena (Fianna Fáil): 1,584
Fiona Lynam (Social Democrats): 194
Noel McKervey (Aontú): 196
Tony Moran (Renua Ireland): 86
Jamie Moran (Non-Party): 1,028
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 344
Aengus O’Rourke (Fianna Fáil): 1,314
Alan Shaw (Fine Gael): 563

Frankie Keena’s vote exceeded the quota and he is elected on the first count. His surplus of 161 votes will now be distributed among the other candidates.

4pm: The first count for the Athlone area is in, and it prompted a huge roar around Moate Community Centre as Fianna Fáil’s Frankie Keena tops the poll and retains his seat on Westmeath County Council. Keena supporters hoist him on their shoulders in celebration. Full count details to follow… 

3.50pm: The first count for the Athlone area is expected within the next 10-15 minutes.

3.45pm: Voting turnout in the Moate area was 56.4%.

3.40pm: So Fine Gael's Tom Farrell has topped the poll in the new four-seat Moate electoral area, followed by Fianna Fáilers Liam McDaniel and Vinny McCormack, who are almost neck and neck. Labour's Jonnie Penrose appears likely to take the final seat, ahead of Moate's Michael O'Brien. 

3.35pm: FIRST COUNT – MOATE ELECTORAL AREA

Electorate: 15,319
Votes cast: 8,643
Invalid votes: 165
Total valid poll: 8,478
Quota: 1,696

Searlait Cabdi Ní Chianáin (Non-Party): 180
Damien Clear (Fine Gael): 607
Brian Crum (Fianna Fáil): 852
Thomas Farrell (Fine Gael): 1,567
Peter Judge (Sinn Féin): 295
Vinny McCormack (Fianna Fáil): 1,313
Liam McDaniel (Fianna Fáil): 1,329
Michael O’Brien (Non-Party): 1,073
Johnnie Penrose (Labour Party): 1,262

No candidate reached the quota. The two candidates with the lowest number of votes, Searlait Cabdi Ní Chianáin and Peter Judge were eliminated, and their votes will now be distributed.

3.25pm: The first count for the Moate area is in. No candidate elected on the first count. Full details to follow…   

3.05pm: Six hours after counting started at Moate Community Centre, we still have no results from the four local electoral areas in Westmeath. We're hearing that the first count is now expected at approximately 4pm.  

2.55pm: Cllr Paul Hogan and others gathered around the 'doubtful' votes for the Athlone area, which are currently being adjudicated upon. Some of these votes have been marked incorrectly and will be deemed spoiled: 

2.40pm: A consignment of chips, chicken, and sausages from Supermac's has arrived in a corner of the count centre to feed election-watchers as they continue to await developments. There's nothing like an election count to work up an appetite! 

 

2.25pm: 'Doubtful' votes from the Athlone area are now being adjudicated upon.  

2.10pm:  When asked about the delay in transferring the ballots from Athlone IT yesterday, Aengus O’Rourke said he didn’t know the reason for the delay but one possibility was that that it could have been caused by people putting postal ballots into ordinary ballot boxes. “That can cause a discrepancy in the number of ballots, and lead to it being recounted a number of times,” he said.

The Fianna Fáil councillor added that he had heard all sorts of rumours about what might have happened. “I’ve heard that stuff ended up in Castlebar. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. If it did, how in the name of God did it end up in Castlebar?”   

2pm: Still no white smoke. We'll bring you the news as it happens, but there are no results to report as of yet. Many of the candidates have been to the count centre at some stage today, with Frankie Keena, John Dolan, Padraig Hegarty, Louise Heavin, Michael O'Brien, Aengus O'Rourke, Alan Shaw, Fiona Lynam, and Tom Farrell all making appearances. Paul Hogan has been keeping a watchful eye on the counting throughout.   

1.20pm: Matters are further advanced in the Roscommon count, where the first three Roscommon County Council seats in the Athlone area have been filled. My colleague Triona Doherty is providing updates on the count at the Dr Hyde centre here: 

https://www.westmeathindependent.ie/news/roundup/articles/2019/05/25/4174636-election-updates-athlone-electoral-area-of-roscommon-county-council/

1.15pm: The counting of votes is ongoing but there's no news yet on when the first count will be completed. 

1.10pm: Aengus O’Rourke is calling the last Athlone seat for Louise Heavin. “I’ve done the numbers and I see absolutely no way that Louise Heavin will lose it," he told us. "I crunched the numbers every possible way, and no matter what way I worked it in terms of the positioning, Heavin came out on top. She’ll win the seat.”

1pm: Aengus O’Rourke is at the count centre after a “rollercoaster” week in which he ended up in the Tullamore Hospital A&E, due to a medical emergency, on Tuesday. 

He’s delighted with his performance. “I’m seeing over a 30% increase in my vote, which is way in excess of anything I had expected or predicted, especially given the amount of candidates running (15 candidates for 5 seats). I felt that if I were to improve my vote at all it would have been a bonus, so to do so by over 30%, based on tally figures, is fantastic.”

Aengus O'Rourke

12.20pm: To recap, yesterday’s tallies for the Athlone area indicate that four of the five seats will most likely be going to Frankie Keena (FF), Aengus O’Rourke (FF), Jamie Moran (Ind), and John Dolan (FG). 

The most interesting aspect of the day will be seeing how the race for the fifth and final Athlone seat plays out. 

It looks to be between the three H’s: Heavin, Hegarty, and Hogan, although Alan Shaw is also still in with a chance. There’s speculation that Green Party candidate Heavin might be best-positioned to take the seat, but all will depend on how the transfers are distributed. 

Retreat Park native Paul Hogan has been a councillor for the last 15 years, having been elected to Athlone Town Council at the age of 21 in 2004. 

He was Sinn Fein’s standard-bearer locally up to last year, when he split from the party citing allegations of bullying. Hogan ran as an Independent candidate, with the support of Minister of State Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, while Baylough’s Padraig Hegarty was Sinn Fein’s representative, running in his first local election in Athlone. 

Based on the tallies from yesterday, there’s a possibility that Hogan and Hegarty could both narrowly miss out on a seat. We shall see. 

11.40am: The talk here is that the first count is not likely to be completed until 1pm at the earliest. 

11.35am: The counting finally got underway shortly after 9am this morning. We understand that the ballots eventually made it to the count centre here at around 10.30pm last night, but there’s still no clarity as yet on the reason for the delay in releasing them from the AIT Indoor Arena and transporting them to Moate. 

11.30am: Good morning from Moate Community Centre where, after yesterday’s false start, counting is now underway in the Westmeath local elections. Adrian Cusack here. Throughout the day I’ll be bringing you live updates from the count centre on the council races for the Athlone and Moate electoral areas. 

 

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