‘Lowry’s vote hits record high’
Parts of South West Offaly, with a population of 4,276, were transferred to this three seat constituency since 2007. It included Moneygal, the ancestral Offaly home of the US President Barack Obama.
There was a familiar pattern to the headline result here though. Michael Lowry may not bask in the approval of the Moriarty Tribunal or the national media, but if anything that seems to increase the loyalty of his supporters in Tipperary North. Lowry headed the poll, as he has done at every election since he became an Independent in 1997, and pushed his vote total to a new record high. He won 14,104 first preference votes. This was a 29% share of the vote. Just to rub it in, it was his surplus that took incumbent Fine Gael TD Noel Coonan into the second seat.
Fianna Fail had taken 2 of the 3 seats here as recently as 2002, but the odds were against it holding even one in 2011. Máire Hoctor, seen as one of the dissidents after Brian Cowen dropped her from her junior ministerial post in April 2009, had the advantage of being the party’s sole candidate, and she did not do badly; she increased her personal vote, and the swing away from Fianna Fail, at a mere 17.8 per cent, was one of the smallest in the country. However, that was not enough.
For Labour, Kathleen O’Meara had stepped aside after mounting strong challenges in 1997, 2002 and 2007, and the party standard-bearer now was former Senator Alan Kelly. He had left the Seanad in 2009 to run in the European Parliament elections in 2009. He was elected as MEP for the South constituency. Although he vowed in that campaign not to contest the next General Election, a request from the party leader was enough to lure him home. He nearly doubled the party’s vote share and took the final seat over 2,000 votes ahead of Hoctor. His European Parliament seat remained within Tipperary, passing on to Clonmel-based Phil Prendergast.