‘Dynasty change sees Spring in as McEllistrim loses out’
A significantly redrawn constituency, with about 4,000 voters around Castleisland being moved into Kerry South and around 10,000 voters from west Limerick finding themselves part of this constituency.
Only one of the candidates was from the Limerick part of the constituency, John Sheahan from Glin, and he was the surprise of the election, polling a very strong fourth. In a three-seater that’s not quite good enough, though, and this was one of the most predictable constituencies in the country.
The collapse of Fianna Fáil support nationally meant that Tom McEllistrim really had no chance of retaining his seat. The third of the dynasty to hold a seat here, like his father and grandfather — both also called Tom — he tended to concentrate on the grassroots rather than hold forth in the Dáil chamber or to the media.
The other two incumbents were comfortably re-elected. Jimmy Deenihan, now a cabinet minister, has firmly established himself as the dominant figure in the constituency, and has led Fine Gael to heights (41% of the votes) that it has never before reached in Kerry. Martin Ferris of Sinn Féin, having been first elected in 2002, has been reasonably secure at subsequent elections.
The newcomer was Labour’s Arthur Spring who, with a little help from his uncle Dick, nearly doubled the party vote from its 2007 base, and he took Tom McEllistrim’s seat. Extraordinarily, there has been both a Spring and a McEllistrim on the ballot paper at all but one (2007) of the last twenty-one elections. The Spring dynasty dates only to 1943, twenty years after the first Tom McEllistrim was elected, but for the moment the Springs are in and the McEllistrims are out.