‘Gains for Fine Gael and Sinn Féin at Fianna Fáil’s expense’
This constituency was created just before the 2007 general election. It was formed from the old Sligo-Leitrim constituency which lost part of County Leitrim south of Lough Allen. There were also significant Constituency Commission changes here since 2007. A population of 3,376 in the area north of Carrick-on-Shannon was transferred into the Roscommon-South Leitrim constituency. The number of seats remained the same with three TDs returned.
Fine Gael managed to gain a seat in this constituency despite a two point drop in its vote as it managed to convert 1.5 quotas into two seats. Outgoing deputy John Perry topped the poll with 8,663 first preferences and he went on to take the first seat on the penultimate count. His running mate Tony McLoughlin was in second place in the first count and comfortably took the second seat on the final count.
The big battle here was for the final seat between Sinn Fein, Fianna Fáil and to a lesser extent Labour.
Michael Colreavy narrowly increased the Sinn Féin vote but it was enough to put him in the frame on the first count with 5,911 votes. Colreavy was just under 900 votes ahead of his nearest rival Eamon Scanlon and that was sufficient as he held off the Fianna Fáil challenge and took the final seat by a margin of 646 votes.
The Fianna Fáil vote was down 19 points and with just 0.9 of a quota evenly spread over its two candidates the party fell short of a seat. Outgoing deputy Jimmy Devins decided to retire and Eamon Scanlon was the party’s leading vote getter with 5,075 first preferences. This left him outside the frame in fourth place on the first count, just ahead of his running mate Marc MacSharry. Scanlon failed to bridge the first count gap between himself and Sinn Féin’s Colreavy, despite a 48% vote transfer from his running mate MacSharry.
Labour had high hopes of a seat gain here with former journalist Susan O’Keefe on the ticket. She joined the party prior to the European elections in 2009 and she contested that election in the Ireland North-West constituency. She disappointed once again in this election and with just 4,553 on the fist count was in sixth place and was well beaten in the end. Her transfers were evenly divided among the three winning candidates.
O’Keefe was not helped by the presence of former Labour members Veronica Cawley and Declan Bree. Both unsuccessfully contested as independents and their presence did not help the Labour cause.