Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin might be delighted with the result of this election but it remains to be seen if the election will serve the people of the most populated part of this new electoral area.
Aidan Mullins of Sinn Féin romped home ahead of the field in topping the poll and getting elected on the first count, but he is now left with the unenviable task of being the only councillor based in what has been one of the fastest growing towns in Ireland.
The nearest other county councillor to Port is Tom Mulhall who is based in the Emo/Ballybrittas area. Otherwise all of these councillors are based in Stradbally, and as far away as Crettyard. Almost, certainly the result does not deliver on the reform as intended as intended by Minister Phil Hogan as there is a clear imbalance between the big town and now, arguably over-represented, rural areas.
However, the result stands and the next five years will test all councillors to deliver for Port, or stick with their own backyards.
The big story of the election was the huge vote for Aidan Mullins and Sinn Féin. The support for Cllr Mullins who lost out in 2009, is a clear signal to TDs that Portarlington has had enough of cuts.
The party will be delighted to have won a firm foothold in the town. Fianna Fáil now has no councillor in Portarlington with Cllr Willie Murphy falling just short. The result puts pressure on Cllr Mullins and SF to deliver as the sole elected politician in the border town.
The other big story and local landslide of this vote was the ‘greening’ of Stradbally. Up to now Fine Gael has virtually owned Stradbally, but Fianna Fáil have smashed that status quo by taking the seat.
As the Stradbally boxes were opened last Saturday, it was clear that Paschal McEvoy was the man Stradbally had chosen. He dominiated the votes and was also able to find number ones in neighbouring areas such as Timahoe, taking them from under the nose of his party colleague, Dick Miller.
Ben Brennan defied the odds once again to take a seat as an independent. The non-party tag probably won him more votes.
FG will be a while recovering from the loss of this seat and cannot blame it on the new boundaries. However, Cllr McEvoy, like Cllr Mullins in Port, faces five years of expectation having won such big support in his town.
Another big angle in this area was the defeat of James Daly, once an aspiring TD. The Timahoe man, who was a councillor for 23 years, was said to have canvassed from Port to Graiguecullen in search of votes, but to no avail. His vote was half of what it was in 2009. His party colleague, John Moran, also struggled in this election, but held on in the end.
The upside for Fine Gael was the win for Cllr Tom Mulhall whose first preference vote was up more than 300 on 2009. Arguably, he benefited from James Deegan’s retirement. His support for wind turbines does not appear to have damaged him and he probably benefited from his work in Portarlington during the last council.
The other big winners in this area were to be found in the south of the constituency.
Padraig Fleming was the other big winner in the campaign. His first preference vote rose by more than 400 on 2009 solidifying his position as the number one FF councillor. His claim to success was a presence on the ground in Graiguecullen, the second big urban area in this sprawling constituency.
Two well known and popular FF candidates lost out in this area.
Willie Murphy could make a good case that Ray Cribbin’s run blocked him. The bigger field may have gone against Dick Miller.