Poll Toppers at the 2014 Local (City and County Council) Elections

Adrian Kavanagh, 26th June 2015

In the lead up to, and in the immediate aftermath of, the 2011 General Election, I produced a post reviewing the poll toppers in each of the different constituencies at the 2007 General Election and their subsequent fate at the 2011 contest. This found that over half of the TDs who had topped the poll in their constituencies in 2007 subsequently were not holding seats after the 2011 contest: ten of these TDs opted to retire from politics ahead of the general election while a further twelve of these poll-topping TDs lost their seats at this contest.

Figure 1: The fates of the 2007 General Election poll toppers at the 2011 General Election.

Against that, a study of the 171 current/former City and County Councillors, who had topped the poll in their electoral areas at the 2009 City and County Council elections, found that an impressive number of these had gone on subsequently to win seats at the 2011 General Election (or indeed at a subsequent by-election (or rather one held on the same day, as in the case of Maureen O’Sullivan). Thirty one of these poll-toppers (18.7%) would win seats at the Dail election in 2011 while a further five (2.9%) would win seats in Seanad Eireann. Thus the 2009 poll toppers group would account for just under 19 per cent of the membership of the new Dail after the February 2011 contest (and well over one-third of the new members ).

Could the candidates who topped the poll in the 137 different electoral areas at the 2014 City and County Council elections enjoy a similar level of success at the upcoming general election?

Electoral Area Poll Topper
Carlow Jennifer Murnane-O’Connor FF
Muinebeag Charlie Murphy IND
Bailieborough-Cootehill Niamh Smyth FF
Ballyjamesduff Noel Connell SF
Cavan-Belturbert John Paul Feeley FF
Ennis James Breen IND
Killaloe Joe Cooney FG
Shannon Cathal Crowe FF
West Clare Christy Curtin IND
Cork County
Ballincollig-Carrigaline Seamus McGrath FF
Bandon-Kinsale Rachel McCarthy SF
Blarney-Macroom Aindrias Moynihan FF
Cobh Padraig O’Sullivan FF
East Cork Noel Collins IND
Fermoy Noel McCarthy LAB
Kanturk-Mallow John Paul O’Shea IND
West Cork Michael Collins IND
Cork City
Cork City North Central Thomas Gould SF
Cork City North East Stephen Cunningham SF
Cork City North West Michael Nugent SF
Cork City South Central Mick Finn IND
Cork City South East Kieran McCarthy IND
Cork City South West John Buttimer FG
Donegal Niamh Kennedy IND
Glenties Seamus O’Domhnaill FF
Letterkenny Liam Blaney FF
Inishowen Martin McDermott FF
Stranorlar Gary Doherty SF
Dublin City
Ballyfermot-Drimnagh Daithi Doolan SF
Ballymun Noeleen Reilly SF
Beaumont-Donaghmede Larry O’Toole SF
Cabra-Finglas Cieran Perry IND
Clontarf Damian O’Farrell IND
Crumlin-Kimmage Criona Ni Dhalaigh SF
North Inner City Janice Boylan SF
Pembroke-South Dock Chris Andrews SF
Rathgar-Rathmines Patrick Costello GP
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
Blackrock Marie Baker FG
Dun Laoghaire John Bailey FG
Dundrum Sorcha Nic Cormaic SF
Glencullen-Sandyford Lettie McCarthy LAB
Killiney-Shankill Hugh Lewis PBPA
Stillorgan Barry Saul FG
Fingal County
Balbriggan Ken Farrell LAB
Castleknock Jack Chambers FF
Howth-Malahide Cian O’Callaghan IND
Mulhuddart Paul Donnelly SF
Swords Philip Lynam SF
South Dublin County
Clondalkin Eoin O’Broin SF
Lucan Danny O’Brien SF
Tallaght Central Maire Devine SF
Tallaght South Cathal King SF
Templeogue Terenure Dermot Looney IND
Rathfarnham John Lahart FF
Galway City
Galway City Central Mike Cubbard IND
Galway City East Terry O’Flaherty IND
Galway City West Donal Lyons IND
Galway County
Athenry-Oranmore Peter Feeney FG
Ballinasloe Tim Broderick IND
Conamara Thomas Welby IND
Loughrea Anne Rabbitte FF
Tuam Sean Canney IND
Killarney Danny Healy-Rae IND
Listowel John Brassil FF
South and West Kerry Johnny Healy-Rae IND
Tralee Toireasa Ferris SF
Athy Martin Miley Junior FF
Celbridge-Leixlip Frank O’Rourke FF
Maynooth Brendan Weld FG
Kildare-Newbridge Fiona O’Loughlin FF
Naas James Lawless FF
Castlecomer Maurice Shortall LAB
Kilkenny City-East Andrew McGuinness FF
Kilkenny City-West Matt Doran FF
Piltown Pat Dunphy FG
Borris in Ossory-Mountmellick John King FG
Graiguecullen-Portarlington Aidan Mullins SF
Portlaoise William Aird FG
Ballinamore Paddy O’Rourke FF
Carrick-on-Shannon Enda Stenson IND
Manorhamilton Padraig Fallon SF
Limerick City East Seighin O Ceallaigh SF
Limerick City North Maurice Quinlivan SF
Limerick City West James Collins FF
Adare-Rathkeale Emmett O’Brien IND
Cappamore-Kilmallock Brigid Teefy IND
Newcastle West Jerome Scanlon FG
Ballymahon Colm Murray FG
Granard Michael Carrigy FG
Longford John Browne FG
Ardee Pearse McGeough SF
Drogheda Imelda Munster SF
Dundalk-Carlingford Edel Corrigan SF
Dundalk-South Tomas Sharkey SF
Ballina John O’Hara FG
Castlebar Michael Kilcoyne IND
Claremorris Patsy O’Brien FG
West Mayo Rose Conway-Walsh SF
Ashbourne Joe Bonner IND
Kells Sean Drew FF
Laytown-Bettystown Eimear Ferguson SF
Navan Joe Reilly SF
Ratoath Brian Fitzgerald IND
Trim Caroline Lynch SF
Ballybay-Clones Seamus Coyle FF
Carrickmacross-Castleblaney Matt Carthy SF
Monaghan Brian McKenna SF
Birr John Leahy IND
Edenderry Martin O’Reilly SF
Tullamore Brendan Killeavy SF
Athlone (Roscommon) Tony Ward IND
Boyle John Cummins FF
Roscommon Paschal Fitzmaurice FF
Ballymote-Tubbercurry Margaret Gormley IND
Sligo Declan Bree IND
Carrick-on-Suir David Dunne SF
Cashel-Tipperary Michael Fitzgerald FG
Clonmel Martin Lonergan IND
Nenagh Joe Hannigan IND
Templemore-Thurles Michael Smith FF
Waterford City East Pat Fitzgerald SF
Waterford City South John Hearne SF
Tramore-Waterford City West Joe Conway IND
Comeragh Michael J O’Ryan FF
Dungarvan-Lismore Damien Geoghegan FG
Athlone (Westmeath) Kevin “Boxer” Moran IND
Mullingar-Coole Aidan Davitt FF
Mullingar-Kilbeggan Paul Daly FF
Gorey Malcolm Byrne FF
Enniscorthy James Browne FF
New Ross Martin Murphy IND
Wexford Ger Carty IND
Arklow Pat Fitzgerald FF
Baltinglass Tommy Cullen IND
Bray John Brady SF
Greystones Jennifer Whitmore IND
Wicklow John Snell SF

Table 1: Poll toppers by electoral area at the 2014 Local Elections. Note: Poll topper here is taken to mean the candidate who won the most first preference votes, not the candidate who was the first to be elected. 

Looking at the trends in the above table, it can be seen that no one party had an outright dominance in terms of which parties, or groupings, the 2014 poll toppers hailed from. Not surprisingly, Sinn Fein accounted for the biggest number of these with forty one (29.9%) of the 2014 poll toppers being candidates of this party. The next largest group of poll-topping candidates hailed from the Independents grouping, with 39 Independent candidates (28.5%) topping the poll in their respective electoral areas.  The relatively high number of independent/non-party candidates in this grouping is perhaps not surprising. While they cannot rely on the financial and organisational supports that party candidates enjoy, this is not as much of a drawback in local elections, given the relatively smaller areas covered by local electoral areas relative to the much larger general election constituencies. (Although some of the new electoral areas in 2014 were very large, most notably the new South and West Kerry electoral area.) Independent candidates also did not have to “share” a constituency with a running mate and hence would not have been limited by vote-management restrictions (e.g. constituency division or bailiwicking) in the way that a party candidate on a multiple-candidate ticket would be.

The two traditional larger parties accounted for the next largest groups of poll-toppers at the 2014 contests. Thirty three (24.1%) of the 2014 poll toppers were Fianna Fail candidates, while Fine Gael accounted for eighteen (13.1%) of the poll toppers in 2014. Four (2.9%) of the 2014 poll toppers were Labour Party candidates, while both the Green Party and People Before Profit Alliance accounted for one (0.7%) of the poll toppers in 2014. Since the 2014 contest, one of these poll toppers have switched allegiances in terms of their party/grouping memberships: John Leahy (now Renua Ireland). 

There was a notable gender dimension here too, as 114 of the poll toppers were male (83.2%) and 23 (16.8%) were female.

The most “successful” of the poll toppers group in 2014, in terms of raw first preference votes, was Fianna Fail’s Seamus McGrath with 4,700 votes in the Ballincollig-Carrigaline electoral area. The next largest first preference votes won in the state in 2014 by a poll topper was Danny Healy-Rae’s (Independent) 4,388 votes haul in South and West Kerry, followed by the 4,374 votes won by John Paul O’Shea (Independent) in Kanturk-Mallow and the 3,926 votes won by Damian O’Farrell (Independent) in Clontarf. The smallest number of votes won a poll topper was the 727 votes won by John Browne (Fine Gael) in Longford Town, just ahead of the 850 votes won by Mike Cubbard (Independent) in Galway City Central and the 858 votes won by Enda Stenson (Independent) in Carrick-on-Shannon.

In terms of the percentage share of the first preference vote won, the most “successful” of the poll toppers group in 2014 was Sinn Fein’s Cathal King with 31.2% of the first preference vote in the Tallaght South electoral area. The next largest first preference vote shares won in the state in 2014 by poll toppers were the 27.9% share of the vote won by Tim Broderick (Independent) in Ballinasloe and the 27.4% share of the vote won by Jennifer Whitemore (Independent) in Greystones. The smallest vote shares won by poll toppers were the 8.7% vote share won by Sorcha Nic Cormaic (Sinn Fein) in Dundrum, the 8.8% vote share won by James Breen (Independent) in Ennis and the 9.0% vote share won by Ciaran Brogan (Fianna Fail) in Letterkenny.

In terms of the percentage share of the first preference vote won, the most “successful” of the poll toppers group in 2014 was Sinn Fein’s Paul Donnelly with 2.45 quotas in the Mulhuddart electoral area. The next largest number of quotas won in the state in 2014 by poll toppers were the 2.21 quotas won by Seamus McGrath (Fianna Fail) in Ballincollig-Carrigaline, the 2.18 quotas won by Cathal King (Sinn Fein) in Tallaght South and the 2.16 quotas won by Danny Healy-Rae (Independent) in South and West Kerry. The smallest number of quotas won by poll toppers were the 0.69 quotas won by John King in Mountmellick-Borris in Ossory, the 0.69 quotas won by Sorcha Nic Cormaic (Sinn Fein) in Dundrum and the 0.71 quotas won by Clifford Kelly (Fianna Fail) in Bailieboro-Cootehill.


About Adrian Kavanagh

Lecturer at the Maynooth University Department of Geography. Email: adrian.p.kavanagh@mu.ie
This entry was posted in Candidates, Candidates Local Elections 2014, local elections, Local Elections 2014, Poll toppers and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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