Tight race for Bantry's fourth seat

Tight race for Bantry's fourth seat
Holly McKeever Cairns, SD at the count centre at the Community Hall in Clonakilty, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

County mayor Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) has become the second councillor elected in the Bantry-West Cork ward, after six counts. He joins Independent Danny Collins, who romped home after the first count with more than 3000 votes.

Fine Gael's Katie Murphy is currently more than 500 votes clear of the field and looks set to take the third seat. But the fourth will go right down to the wire, with Independent Finbarr Harrington just three votes ahead of Social Democrat Holly McKeever Cairns.

Ms Cairns believes her strong showing is a sign of the appetite for change in West Cork.

"People are ready for a different style of politics, and the amount of votes I got speaks volumes about the appetite for change," she said. "I'm so grateful to everyone who voted."

Her ambition for west Cork is to make it a place young people can stay, get good jobs and raise a family.

"All my friends left west Cork for work, I worked abroad myself for years," she said. "I know people who would love to come home but there is nothing here for them.

"I want to change that, improve the quality of life."

Ms McKeever Cairns said the condition of the roads in west Cork was the number one issue she encountered on the doorsteps.

"It has such a negative impact on west Cork," she said. 

"We are hearing about coaches who don't want to come here because the roads are so bad, that's not good enough when tourism is so important to us."

Danny Collins, Independent first to be elected in the local electoral area, for Bantry -West Cork at the count centre at Clonakilty community centre tonightPicture: Eddie O'Hare
Danny Collins, Independent first to be elected in the local electoral area, for Bantry -West Cork at the count centre at Clonakilty community centre tonightPicture: Eddie O'Hare

Poll-topper Collins said rural isolation was a major issue in the area and more funding for services is needed to address this.

"There is a lot of loneliness out there, since the drink driving rules changed you have people who don't go out from one of the week to the next, they are very isolated," he said.

Like many of the candidates, he found the environment coming up a lot on the doors and said he wants to see the council take concrete action on the issue.

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