I’ve never seen Game of Thrones – but I signed up (as usual) to the local version last weekend.
I gather that Game of Thrones had a reputation for being quite gory – as far as I could see it was much more civilised in the Hyde Centre on Saturday and Sunday, while still a good old-fashioned marathon example of the bloodsports’ nature of Irish politics.
It is, of course, a ‘parallel universe’…the count centre. In some instances, you meet people at a count that you haven’t actually met since the last count! Familiar faces…‘count faces’.
And within a minute or so of arriving in the count centre, for yet another marathon, we inevitably slip into count-speak. Into the language of the count.
‘First preferences. Quotas. Transfers. Tallies. Percentages. Eliminations’.
Not to mention the questions and comments.
‘Any sign of a count? When do you think we’ll have a first count? Any word on how things are going nationally? You wouldn’t have a spare pass by any chance?’
It’s a world of its own, really. And usually a compelling one. Last weekend’s count in Roscommon was a long way from being the most exciting in memory, but it had its moments.
I got there after lunch on Saturday, buying in to the marathon once again…as I’ve been doing since the 1980s. Saturday wasn’t a very productive day. There was no first count in any of the three electoral areas in the county (Athlone, Boyle & Roscommon), but the excellent work of tally men and tally women provided us with a strong indication from early on Saturday of how Election ’19 would pan out here.
It was soon clear that Marty McDermott and Tony Waldron would be two of the day’s headline-makers. I was pleased for both of them. Waldron ran a superb campaign and was flying over the past week or so. A very affable man, he is passionate about his county, believes in its untapped potential, and will be a positive force on the Council.
Marty McDermott also ran a great campaign, and the Oran man’s common touch and likeability factor led to a huge vote. His supporters proudly pointed out that he is the first Oran native to be elected to the Council. Marty punched the air with pride and emotion following his tremendous success. It was a very special and emotional moment for Marty, his wife and children, and both their families. And it’s good to see young people coming into politics.
I was pleased too for Donal Kilduff, who pulled off a very impressive win in Athlone/South Roscommon. Donal is what I would describe as an ‘Ideas man’…his campaign was notable for his innovative, environmentally conscious and business-supporting proposals. On a human and political level, it was some achievement by Donal to get elected (at the expense of FF) and after a relatively late entry into the race. He will be a big addition to the Council. A proud moment for his Dad Paddy too. In a quirk of fate, Paddy and Teresa had been booked on a cruise some months ago (a birthday present) and thus missed Donal’s big moment. They only left on Sunday morning, and could hardly be expected to get back that night; not even Paddy can walk on water. No doubt big celebrations will follow in due course.
There were massive, hugely impressive votes for a range of candidates (Paschal Fitzmaurice, Kathleen Shanagher, John Cummins, Valerie Byrne, Michael Mulligan, Tony Ward, Ivan Connaughton, John Naughten, etc.) Tom Crosby made an impressive comeback after being unlucky to lose out in 2014.
Finally, Domnick Connolly accepted defeat with dignity and good humour. He has been a very effective councillor for a long time, and is a great community activist and a very popular man. Domnick knows this is how the ball bounces sometimes, he knows all about the twists and turns and high and lows of politics. He was gracious on Sunday, quickly turning the subject to Roscommon’s win over Mayo!
* Well done to Returning Officer Shane Tiernan and all Council staff present who did a great job over the weekend. Also, a reader was in touch to say that while there was understandable insistence on admission by pass only, they were pleased to see that there was discretion applied on Sunday evening and family/supporters of successful candidates were allowed in during the closing stages of the count…so that they could celebrate. Well said!