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Changed council will see four new faces

Story by Noelle Finegan

Wednesday, 10th June, 2009 9:56am

Four new faces have been elected to Trim Town Council while sitting Sinn Fein councillor Caroline Lynch has lost her seat.

Fianna Fail"s Ronan McKenna, James O"Shea and Donall O"Brien of Labour and Fine Gael"s Willie Fay have all won seats, and join sitting councillors Ray Butler (FG), Gerry Reilly (FG), Vincent McHugh (FF), Phil Cantwell (Ind) and Trevor Golden (Ind) in making up the new council.

Fine Gael and Labour performed strongly, gaining a seat each, while Fianna Fail held onto its two seats on the council and narrowly missed out on gaining a third seat with just seven votes separating Willie Fay and Paddy Rispin on the final count when it concluded at 2.40am on Saturday morning.

Fine Gael had the highest vote share at 36 per cent, followed by Fianna Fail on 23 per cent, Labour on 15.5 per cent and Sinn Fein on 4.5 per cent. The three independent candidates accounted for 21 per cent of first preference votes.

As expected, Fine Gael"s Ray Butler topped the poll with 652 first preferences, which was well over double the quota of 265. Outgoing cathaoirleach Trevor Golden was also elected on the first count with 351 first preferences.

Butler also topped the poll in the Trim electoral area for Meath County Council. He said: 'I"m elated, ecstatic. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would top the poll in the two places.' He said it had been an 'emotional ride' as his mother had been unwell for the last while and any spare time he had he was visiting her in hospital.

Butler"s surplus brought sitting councillor Gerry Reilly over the line on the second count and newcomer Ronan McKenna was also elected on this count.

McKenna, who is engaged to Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey"s daughter, Aileen, gained a seat, as expected, and retained the Fianna Fail seat held by Jimmy Peppard who decided not to run this time.

Speaking after being elected, Mr McKenna said: 'I"m delighted. I worked hard and it is nice to see that if you work hard it will pay off. I know I have a big task ahead but we"re delighted and I"m not afraid of hard work. It"s great that the Navan Road has a representative which they haven"t had before.'

It was a great result for the Labour Party which doubled its representation on the council with James O"Shea being elected on the fourth count and Donall O"Brien, son of retiring councillor Danny O"Brien, getting elected on the sixth count.

Mr O"Brien said: 'I"m absolutely thrilled. I"m proud to take my father"s seat and I hope I do half the job he did. Labour ran a tight election in Trim and it showed with us gaining two seats. We gained 6.5 per cent this time, bringing us up to 15.5 per cent of the vote.'

Mr O"Shea, too, was delighted to win a seat for Labour on his second attempt after he failed to win a seat when he ran 10 years ago. He said: 'I went 10 years ago with Danny O"Brien and I didn"t make it, but I persisted and gave this a good go and got great support from the people of the town. I intend to work very hard. It is an honour to represent the town.'

Phil Cantwell"s first preference votes were more than halved compared to his last outing in 2004 when he made the quota on the first count. He was the seventh candidate to be elected and reached the quota on the eight count. Cllr Cantwell"s vote was boosted by transfers from Butler and Lynch to bring him safely over the line.

McHugh and Fay were elected without reaching the quota on the final count and Rispin only narrowly missed out on a seat, finishing seven votes behind Willie Fay. Mr Fay said he was 'very confident all day' but said: 'It was terrible to see it go to a stage where it was neck and neck. I feel sorry for Paddy Rispin, who is a good friend'. He also thanked his election team.

Sinn Fein"s Caroline Lynch was the only sitting councillor to lose her seat and was eliminated in the seventh count. Cllr Lynch said she was disappointed that republicans in the town no longer have representation and that there are no women on the town council any more.

She said Sinn Fein"s vote was squeezed and they had been fighting a national swing towards Labour and Fine Gael. However, she added that she was delighted the Sinn Fein vote had stood up nationally.

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