By John O’Mahony, KillarneyToday.com
WITH the first count now in progress at the Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre, unofficial tally figures estimate that Michael Healy-Rae is running close to 7,000 votes above the estimate quota and will be elected with a massive surplus.
In one of the most remarkable general election performances in Kerry political history, he has polled an estimated 20,416 number ones and the required quota is expected to be 13,341.
His surplus will be sufficient to bring his brother, Danny, to the Dáil with him and the latter is likely to get past the finish post in the second count.
Danny also performed incredibly well with 10,075 votes following one of the most astute vote management strategies ever unveiled.
They carved up the constituency between them, with Danny concentrating on Killarney, East Kerry and Castleisland and Michael seeking first preferences in every other part of the county.
It worked a treat with Michael even out-performing Jimmy Deenihan and John Brassil in a number of boxes in their home patch in the north of the county.
Where the other three seats will go is still the subject of great debate here at the count centre this afternoon with John Brassil (FF), Martin Ferris (SF) and the two FG TDs Brendan Griffin and Jimmy Deenihan still in the running although Arthur Spring (Lab) is out of the picture with an estimated 4,614 number ones.
Tally figures have Brassil on 8,075, Ferris on 9,223, Griffin on 9,642 and Deenihan on 6,448 and it clear that the pattern of the transfers will be crucial.
Norma Moriarty (FF) polled a very respectable 4,072 votes in her debut general election and her transfers and more from the Healy-Raes are likely to edge Brassil close to the finishing line and he is expected to take a seat.
It could then boil down to Ferris taking another and the two Fine Gael TDs fighting it out for themselves with veteran TD Deenihan – who was not at the count centre today – the most likely to lose out.
Apart from the Healy-Rae double, there is only one other certainty here at the bustling count centre in Killarney – it’s going to be a long night.
And we’ll be back for more of the same tomorrow.