Pádraig O’Sullivan has been elected to the Dáil for Cork North Central without reaching the quota.
He was elected on the tenth count with a total vote of 11,633 ahead of Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould in second place, with 8,044.
O’Sullivan, a Fianna Fáil representative, who was also a county councillor, led from the off, emerging top of the tallies and stayed top of the poll the entire way through the count process.
Following his win, the newly elected TD said: “I’m delighted, I’ve had great support from friends, family, Fianna Fáil, former TDs.
"I’d just like to express my gratitude to all the people that have helped. I’m delighted with the result.
"Five years ago when I became a county councillor I would have aspired to hopefully get here at some stage. I never thought it would happen so soon, so I’m delighted and I’m grateful for everybody’s support."
“I think it sends a clear message for the General Election next year that we’ll hopefully have a second seat as well in Cork North Central.
“We knew that this by-election was a short-term fix. Next year we’ll have two candidates on the ticket, and we do need to maximise our return. We do want to form an alternative Government next year,” he added.
Party leader Micheál Martin said: “It’s a tremendous result for Pádraig and for Fianna Fáil in Cork North Central and I must say that from the party point of view there was a tremendous campaign on the ground.”
Billy Kelleher, whose seat was up for grabs, told The Echo that he was impressed with Pádraig O’Sullivan’s showing in this by-election.
“I always felt that the vote in Cork North Central for Fianna Fáil is always about 28%-29% and upwards. We’ve seldom polled less than that except in 2011 which was a very difficult time for the party, but since then there’s always been a recovery in the vote” he said.
“Overall it shows that Fianna Fáil is still very strong in Cork North Central,” Mr Kelleher concluded.
The electorate was 85,524. 30% of voters turned out with the total poll at 25,854 and quota set at 12,784.
There were 287 spoiled votes.
Independent Charlie Keddy was the first eliminated after count one with 49 first preference votes.
Thomas Kiely was eliminated in count two, while Martin Condon and James Coughlan were eliminated after count three.
Count four saw Sinéad Halpin eliminated for the social democrats and Aontú’s Finian Toomey lost out after count five.
Solidarity Cllr Fiona Ryan, who was eliminated after count six said: “I’m very proud of is the campaign we waged. We brought the sharpest issues that affect this constituency to the forefront like mental health, and these are campaigns that are going to continue into next year and beyond.”
The Green Party’s Oliver Moran was next to go in count seven, followed by John Maher in count eight, who told The Echo: “We’re feeling fantastic, we’re at 10% in Cork North Central. Newly elected since May, first by-election under my belt, an incredible team. I don’t care when they call it but we’re ready for the General Election.”
Fine Gael’s Colm Burke was eliminated after count nine but was also pleased with his vote, coming in in third place.
“Our vote has increased from the last General Election. It was a great team effort right across the constituency.
"We got to about 98% of houses across the constituency and it was the most intensive canvass ever done by Fine Gael in Cork North Central in the last 25 years.
“We’re very happy with the vote. It is a Fianna Fáil seat in the sense that it’s Billy Kelleher who is gone to Brussels.
"We, of all the parties running in this by-election, got the biggest increase in vote, which is a credit to the Fine Gael party, but it’s also about the hard work on the ground I’ve been doing over the last four or five years which I will continue to do.”
Cllr Thomas Gould, who was the last candidate left to battle for the seat with Fianna Fáil’s Pádraig O’Sullivan, said that despite getting a tyre puncture on the way to the count centre, he was very pleased with his vote, especially after Sinn Féin’s poor showing overall in local and Eurepean elections in May: “If you go back to 2016 which was the best election Sinn Féin ever had in Cork North Central, we’re actually slightly ahead.
"So for us, that’s a huge positive. My poor dad is probably gutted tonight, and my wife and my kids, and my sisters and family, but from a Sinn Féin point of view I’m in very good form. It would have been nice to win, but we’ve got a fabulous result. This is really positive for the party,” he said.