Monday, February 10, 2020


LIVE UPDATES: Counts, reaction and more – the full day and night’s count for the Waterford constituency


David Cullinane is re-elected to Dáil Éireann, topping the poll with a phenomenal 20,569 first preferences.


  • Butler, Shanahan and O Cathasaigh elected

  • Fine Gael loses Waterford seat

  • Una Dunphy perseveres until the fifth count-leaving with 5,444 votes

  • Pratt eliminated on the fourth count with 4,602 votes

  • Mulligan eliminated on third count with 3,180 votes

  • Cullinane elected on first count with 20,569 votes

  • Shanahan: ‘This is the beginning of building something’


Matt Shanahan in jubilant form.


03.55: The Poll toppers in Waterford’s local elections are Waterford’s newest TDs, Marc O Cathasaigh making Green history and Independent Matt Shanahan who had championed the cause for 24/7 cardiac care at UHW. They were deemed elected alongside Portlaw’s Mary Butler of Fianna Fáil after the 7th count. With Cummins and Geoghegan, both FG, unable to catch up with transfer friendly O Cathasaigh, for the first time since the foundation of the State Waterford’s Redmondite ties are broken. And that’s a wrap from the Waterford count centre at WIT!

O Cathasaigh surpassed FG to take the fourth seat


Seventh count:

Butler, Mary 11,233 ELECTED

Cummins, John 8,477

O Cathasaigh, Marc 9,738 ELECTED

Shanahan, Matt 10,708 ELECTED


Sixth Count:

Butler, Mary 10,028

Cummins, John 5,880

Geoghegan, Damien 5,549 ELIMINATED

O Cathasaigh, Marc 9,118

Shanahan,  Matt 10,127

Una Dunphy perseveres until the fifth count – leaving with 5,444 votes

01:30: The People Before Profit candidate fought her way to the fifth count, losing out with a small margin of votes. This has been Dunphy’s most successful election to date, and her high ranking ties in with the election of Sinn Féin and the increase in popularity for the Green Party. If Waterford elect O Cathasaigh in the fourth seat, a left government has definitely been chosen and change has truly been voted for by the people of Waterford.

Butler, Mary: 9,867

Cleary, Ronan: Eliminated

Cullinane, David: Elected

Cummins, John: 5,784

Dunphy, Una: Eliminated

Geoghegan, Damien: 45,473

Mulligan, Eddie: Eliminated

O Cathasaigh, Marc: 6,873

Phillips, Bernadette: Eliminated

Pratt, John: Eliminated

Shanahan, Matt: 8,576


Pratt eliminated on the fourth count with 4,602 votes

Monday 00:30: Labour’s John Pratt was eliminated in the fourth count, despite having received 149 transfers from Mulligan. The current Mayor of Waterford City & County Council was hopeful of earning one of the four coveted seats, but that hope has been cut short in the fourth count.


Butler, Mary: 8,939

Cleary, Ronan: Eliminated

Cullinane, David: Elected

Cummins, John: 5,484

Dunphy, Una: 4,944

Geoghegan, Damien: 4,675

Mulligan, Eddie: Eliminated

O Cathasaigh, Marc: 5,976

Phillips, Bernadette: Eliminated

Pratt, John: Eliminated

Shanahan, Matt: 7,885


Mulligan eliminated on third count with 3,180 votes

23:24pm: Fianna Fáil’s Eddie Mulligan was eliminated with 3,180 votes. No other candidate reached the quota for a seat on the third count. Cullinane remains the only candidate to have been elected in Waterford. Mulligan was not present at the count centre for the elimination. With one Fianna Fáil candidate now eliminated, all eyes are on Mary Butler to take the next seat, with current votes at 7,720.

Butler, Mary: 7,720

Cleary, Ronan: Eliminated

Cullinane, David: Elected

Cummins, John: 5,119

Dunphy, Una: 4,829

Geoghegan, Damien: 4,572

Mulligan, Eddie: Eliminated

O Cathasaigh, Marc: 5,631

Phillips, Bernadette: Eliminated

Pratt, John: 4,453

Shanahan, Matt: 7,346


Bernadette Phillips and Ronan Cleary eliminated on the second count

With final tallies of 324 for Independent candidate, Bernadette Phillips and 1,049 for Aontú candidate, Ronan Cleary, David Cullinane’s transfers raised those tallies to 845 and 1,426 respectively.

Both candidates were eliminated on the second count, having failed to receive a high enough percentage of votes.

High transfers were awarded to People Before Profit’s Una Dunphy, who received an additional 3,208 votes and Independent candidate Matt Shanahan, who received an additional 1,725 votes. Arguably, this does not leave Una with the prospect of more transfers but Independent’s Matt Shanahan, now with 6,715 votes is trailing after Mary Butler at 7,306.

Butler, Mary: 7,306

Cleary, Ronan: Eliminated

Cullinane, David: Elected

Cummins, John: 5,306

Dunphy, Una: 4,361

Geoghegan, Damien: 4,543

Mulligan, Eddie: 3,093

O Cathasaigh, Marc: 5,380

Phillips, Bernadette: Eliminated

Pratt, John: 4,306

Shanahan, Matt: 6,715


Mulligan proud of his election efforts 

21:16: Fianna Fáil’s Eddie Mulligan said he is ‘delighted’ to have won the faith of 2,654 Waterfordians who offered their first preference to him in yesterday’s General Election.

“Overall, when it’s combined with Mary Butler’s vote, that brings us to in and around 18 per cent. I think people always knew that for me, being selected as an additional candidate that I was always going to be looking at second seat for Fianna Fáil and we certainly had the ambition to go out and look for that second seat. But obviously today the important thing is to protect that one seat and for me, looking across the vote I have to compliment David Cullinane. He has swept the board right across the county and within the city centre, Waterford City East and Waterford City South where I would consider myself strong relatively; I think David hoovered up the votes there.”

The great unknown of where the surplus of the poll topper’s vote may divvy out shall prove telling, Cllr Mulligan told this newspaper: “I haven’t reviewed any of the tallying coming in but I feel myself that you’ll have the solid Sinn Féin vote which mightn’t go beyond one or maybe two if they extended support to another left wing candidate. In relation to the rest of the votes, I think it will break down pro rata. I think people may have voted for Sinn Féin in a protest vote and then gone back to their regular party or independent choice after that. I suppose, really, the dispersion of that surplus will reveal a lot when the time comes.”

Mary Butler suggests FF should have run just one candidate

20:02: Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler has suggested that her running on a standalone basis might have served the party better in this general election.

“When that decision was made, we were trying to be ambitious for the party,” said the Portlaw-based TD, who won 6,644 first preferences, a significant drop from her 2016 numbers which came to 10,603.

“We were trying to be ambitious for Micheál Martin, we want Micheál Martin to be Taoiseach and the only way you can do that is to win the most possible seats. There wasn’t a constituency that Fianna Fáil, even in a three-seater constituency, that Fianna Fáil didn’t have two candidates. At the time I did voice my concerns; I feel that sometimes when you’re putting on a second candidate meant we might split the vote and you could cancel each other out and we’re actually seeing a little bit of that throughout the country now.”

However, the likelihood remains that Mary Butler will transfer strongly from Eddie Mulligan upon his elimination from the race. “I’d be hoping that I’d see a sizeable figure from David Cullinane’s surplus; I’d say there’ll be a lot of ‘plumpers’ as well – just one votes – as a lot of people vote like that as well. I’d imagine I’d get a sizeable transfer from the Aontú candidate (Ronan Cleary)…but I’m hopeful that I’ve done enough to secure the second or third seat.”

Cullinane returned with over 20,000 first preferences 

17.46pm: Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane has been returned to the Dáil on the first count with a whopping 20,569 first preference votes, illustrating the surge in support his party has enjoyed both locally and nationally.

“I don’t think anybody would have seen this vote coming,” he told the Waterford News & Star, moments before he was hoisted shoulder high by his supporters. “Certainly we didn’t; if we did we would have stood a second candidate. We knew before the campaign got underway that we were going to do well and we had a figure of 14,000 to 15,000 first preferences being very likely for us. But to get over 20,000 is obviously exceptional and is something that we didn’t foresee.”

Deputy Cullinane continued: “I think it was the perfect storm of my own brand – I was quite strong in the city and county – the Sinn Féin brand was quite strong and when you have both of those things it’s a quite potent mix in any election. I also had the luxury of having some very high-profile TDs and other candidates who weren’t standing and that played its part as well. If you’re an incumbent and you’re in a strong position that helps so we had all of those things going in our favour and I would say the hard work I’ve put in over the past four years also played it part. So when you look at all those factors, it has led to what has been a phenomenal vote for us here.”

Referring to his first general election in 2002, Deputy Cullinane recalled that he won 2,977 first preferences. “I remember it to a vote and we were very pleased with that vote obviously at the time because it was from a standing start. In 2007, that wasn’t a great election, we only marginally increased the vote to over 3,000; in 2011 I lost out – just about – to John Halligan and it takes patience, tenacity and hard work to keep going, which I did over a long number of years. I said this a number of times during the campaign: some very prominent people in Waterford told me when I first got involved in politics that I’d never be elected as a councillor with Sinn Féin – and I did. They then told me that I’d never be a TD with Sinn Féin – and I was. They also told me I’d never be a minister with Sinn Féin, so we’ll how the history books will mark that one. But that’s something now, obviously that we have to be focused on in the time ahead. We have to fight for our position in government the same way as everybody else does. They will try and exclude us but we have to be there fighting to get into government, not for the sake of it, not with any one particular party, not to prop them up but to be there, at the very minimum, equal partners in a government. And that might be with smaller parties on the left with a bigger party, it might be with smaller parties than Sinn Féin, we’ll have to wait and see the way the seats are filled – or it could be with one of the two bigger parties, who knows?”

Phillips vows to continue raising awareness

With early tallies showing Independent candidate Bernadette Phillips in receipt of 338 first preference votes, this leaves Phillips polling last in this general election. In conversation with Dymphna Nugent, Bernadette was positive of a good outcome for Waterford City & County. “I’m always mindful of the people whose doors I knocked on, and their wide range of issues. I’m thinking of the lady who hasn’t had her eyes seen to, and the gentleman who hasn’t received his pension. I think I have raised my profile and I have raised awareness of those issues which I heard about on the doorsteps.”

Even at this early stage of the count, Bernadette declares that she will continue to raise awareness about these issues. However, early numbers suggest one of the coveted four seats will not be for this Independent candidate.

Marc O Cathasaigh, Green Party

Green Party: ‘Maybe we didn’t get our message across’

16:24: Grace O’Sullivan MEP is on site today in support of Marc Ó Cathasaigh’s campaign for the Green Party. “I think people genuinely want change from the images that we are seeing on TV and the impact that the Fine Gael policy is having on their lives.” With Ó Cathasaigh relatively new on the political scene, it was always going to be a gamble running a lesser known candidate and yet, O’Sullivan credits the rise from 1% to 8% “The Greens generally do well in transfers and in some of the boxes I watched, he did extremely well. In one of the boxes, he surpassed Cullinane, which was an achievement in this election.”

O’Sullivan acknowledged Tramore candidates such as Una Dunphy who have been on the campaign trail for a number of years, whose vocal voice for women’s rights has established her as a strong local candidate. “Marc has made a big splash and altogether we are very happy with his vote. According to last night’s exit poll, we are at 8 percent, so we are still solid.” O’Sullivan said “we were kind of hoping that we would get more of a surge on the back of recent elections but we just didn’t get the traction that we were hoping for. Maybe we didn’t get our message across.”

Matt Shanahan: ‘This is the beginning of building something’

16:05: Independent candidate Matt Shanahan is pleased with the 3,931 first preferences he gained in yesterday’s General Election but realises there’s a long wait ahead when it comes to where he’ll ultimately place in the race to the Dáil.

“There’s nothing won here yet,” Cllr Shanahan told the Waterford News & Star. “The other seats (behind poll topper in waiting David Cullinane) have yet to be decided and if we get there, we get there. But this will only be the start of something, to be quite frank. It’s not the finish of anything.”

When asked if he was pleased with his first preference share, which amounts to 9.26% of the valid poll, Cllr Shanahan added: “We put in a really solid effort. We did our best to canvass all of the city and county. We had 26 people canvassing in Dungarvan last Saturday week; I don’t think anyone else had those type of numbers. At that point we still had people out in Dunmore and along the east of the county along with the city so we tried to pay due respect to everyone’s vote. We also tried to let people know that this campaign wasn’t just about the hospital. As I’ve been saying for quite some time now, that if we could deliver this single thing (at UHW), this one single thing, then how are we going to deliver anything else?”

How problematic did the relatively short campaign prove for Cllr Shanahan and his canvassing team? “We were expecting a longer lead-in to the election and we would like to have had more time. We didn’t get everywhere covered; in some areas we got 90 per cent coverage but not everywhere. I would like to have everybody the respect by going out and talking to them in seeking their vote but it was what it was. I think it’s very difficult and people need to understand the parties are machines, they have activists who are supporting every activity for months and months prior to any election and we were trying to get canvassers out with very short notice to try and get behind my message – and the lateness of my declaring (for the election) was probably partly responsible for that too but I just wasn’t in a position to declare earlier than that.”

Beyond 24/7 cardiac care at UHW, what were the other major issues that were brought to Cllr Shanahan’s attention on the doorsteps?

“There’s a lot of people in crisis in both the city and the county in terms of mental health services – our CAHMS (Child And Adolescent Mental Health) service is in crisis – and I don’t think people are not aware of the suffering that is going on in Waterford in that area currently and that is something I would like to look at very quickly if I was fortunate enough to be elected to serve the people of Waterford. I’ve also heard a lot about the problems facing carers in Waterford, the state of our economy came up a lot along with the pension issue and of course people know – and they’re not stupid when it comes to this – that the region has suffered terribly, terribly badly over the past six or seven years and they want to see something done about that. Of course, reversing some of these issues won’t happen overnight. This is the beginning of building something.”

‘Uncharted waters’ – Geoghegan

16.03: Waterford’s general election hopefuls are in “uncharted waters” according to Cllr Damien Geoghegan. Speaking to the Waterford News & Star in the WIT count centre, the Fine Gael candidate said, “We have a candidate here- David Cullinane – who has gotten a massive vote. He’s gotten two quotas in reality. He has a massive surplus and that will determine quite a lot. I really wouldn’t like to call it at this stage until that surplus is distributed. “It will all come down to the transfers in the end,” he said.

Labour’s John Pratt felt it was a strange election. “There’s going to be a lot of transferable votes and that is going to be the deciding factor.” Saying that that he has given it his best shot. “I feel like I’m in with an outside chance of the fourth seat. For me to take this on with my wife and my personal circumstances it wasn’t easy, but that is why I feel as good as I do because I genuinely believe I did the right thing. We will see what happens.”

Fianna Fáil’s two candidate strategy questioned

15:21:A senior Fianna Fáil representative in Waterford has questioned the wisdom of his party’s running two candidates in this weekend’s General Election.

Speaking to the Waterford News & Star at the Count Centre in WIT, the source said: “We had one seat going into the election and while we ran two candidates, I think the aim had to be to hold the one seat we have and it looks like we’ll do that. We’re not overly happy about but we’re not disappointed on the day.”

The spokesperson said that running a second candidate in Waterford, four years on from Mary Butler’s standalone Dáil run was not the only option available to the party. “I don’t think it was inevitable, no. And to give you a personal opinion, I think we should have had one candidate. I said it at the Convention and I let Headquarters know the day that we added the second candidate on that I thought it was the wrong decision and we should have run only one candidate.”

Given the accuracy of last night’s exit poll, the composition of the next government will not be easily or rapidly agreed upon. On that front, our FF source stated: “I think there will have to be some sort of an agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. I don’t know whether that will be a grand coalition, whether it’s confidence and supply or if it will be Fine Gael leading it or us leading it, but there’ll have to be some combination of the two of those – otherwise we’ll be back on the doorstep in two months’ time.”

Cleary would run again

13:50: Aontú candidate Ronan Cleary has expressed a willingness to run in a future general election having polled just one vote shy of a thousand first preferences.

“We’re a people-based movement; we had a small canvassing team and we probably had about two and a half to three weeks to prepare,” he told the Waterford News & Star as he reflected on his initial result.

“We got two per cent of first preference votes so I think if that’s replicated by all of our candidates throughout the 26 counties, plus with maybe (party leader) Peadar (Tóibín) doing a bit better up in Meath, that’s maybe going to translate into between two and half and three per cent of the national vote. So I think for a party that’s only a year old, I wouldn’t say that’s too bad.”

Dr Cleary added: “When Peadar first joined Sinn Féin 20 years ago, Sinn Féin had two per cent of the vote and one sitting TD so this is a movement that’s going to build for the future; we’re a people-powered movement. I wouldn’t be too disappointed; I would like to have done slightly better but if I get in and around a thousand first preference votes, which is between two and two and a half per cent of the vote, of all first preferences in Waterford, I wouldn’t be too disappointed with that.”

Regarding the issues which had come up most regularly on the doors, Ronan Cleary told us: “It depended on who you were talking to. When I was speaking to small businesses in Dungarvan, it was always about Council rates, insurance and footfall and it was a similar story in the city centre. Regarding speaking to people on the doorstep, there were the obvious issues such as the lack of 24/7 cardiac care, the lack of State investment in the city and the feeling that Waterford has been left behind. And if I was elected, which seems unlikely now at the moment, I would have striven 24/7 myself to bring those matters about.”

As for what lies ahead for him politically, Dr Cleary stated: “Well at this stage, I wouldn’t see any problem with myself going forward if the party wishes me to do so. I’ve met a lot of people, making contacts, building up a small canvassing team which grew to between 10 to 12 towards the end of last week for us so again I’d have no issue about running again.”

Sinn Féin Metropolitan Mayor emotional at party’s landslide

12.50pm: Metropolitan Mayor Cllr Breda Brennan became emotional when she saw the final tally figures, which suggest a landslide victory for Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane.

“All I can say a huge go raibh mile maith agaibh to everyone in Waterford who came out and voted for David,” Cllr Brennan said as she fought back tears of joy for her colleague. “It is testament to the hard work he has put in over the years. He has constantly been in the Dáil fighting for the people of Waterford. He is the hardest working TD in Waterford and I have no doubt that he will continue to work even harder, if that is possible, for the people of Waterford. It’s a momentous day for Sinn Féin nationwide, and especially here.”

12.38pm: People Before Profit’s Una Dunphy is hopeful of “the possibility of a left regime”, following this morning’s count. With landslide votes for David Cullinane, the eye is going to be on Cullinane’s transfers. Una Dunphy is confident on receiving between 50%-60% of Cullinane’s transfers. This means that early tallies indicate a day where it is all to play for and a real possibility of an electorate swing toward Sinn Féin and People Before Profit.

“This is the first time in a general election that there is a referendum style enthusiasm about it.”-Una Dunphy.


Final tallies for Waterford constituency

12.16pm: The boxes are all open and the final tallies are in:

BUTLER, Mary 6,732

CLEARY, Ronan 999

CULLINANE, David 19,842

CUMMINS, John 4,466

DUNPHY, Una 1,199

GEOGHEGAN, Damien 3,996

MULLIGAN, Eddie 2,533

O’CATHASAIGH, Marc 3,814

PHILLIPS, Bernadette 338

PRATT, John 3,406

SHANAHAN, Matt 4,860

11:55am: With 90 per cent of the boxes accounted for, the breakdown of votes is as follows:

BUTLER, Mary 5,578

CLEARY, Ronan 899

CULLINANE, David 18,000

CUMMINS, John 4,021

DUNPHY, Una 1,088

GEOGHEGAN, Damien 3,575

MULLIGAN, Eddie 2,309

O’CATHASAIGH, Marc 3,479

PHILLIPS, Bernadette 297

PRATT, John 3,148

SHANAHAN, Matt 4,447

9:50am: 50 minutes of tallying is telling one clear story – David Cullinane is going to top the poll in Waterford with a sizeable surplus. His transfers will be very important.

9.00am: Boxes being opened and counting commences this morning at the Waterford constituency count centre at WIT. Tallies shortly. All the candidates have their people in place, keeping a close eye on proceedings.

Sinn Fein level with FG and FF – Exit Poll

Sunday 10.10pm: The national Exit Poll, revealed by RTE at 10pm, shows FG on top at 22.4%, but given margin of error of 1.3% they are effectively tied with Sinn Fein at 22.3% and Fianna Fáil 22.2%.

For the first time we see three large parties competing at the same level in Irish politics.

The Ipsos MRBI exit poll was undertaken for The Irish Times, RTE, TG4 and UCD.

The Green Party is on 7.9% and Labour 4.6%, according to the poll.

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