Labour's triumphant trio - Michelle Hall, Paul Bell and Pio Smith.
Poll topper Paul Bell with his father Peter at the count.
Kevin, two seats, Callan and his wife Rut.
Independent candidate Paddy McQuillan watches the count nervously.
Sinn Féin candidates watching the count - David Saurin,Tom Cunnigham, Pearse McGeogh and Joanna Byrne.
Wounded soldier - Baltray Fine Gael candidate Oliver Tully with his eye bandaged following an accident with an election poster.
Winners and losers - they both ran in the two Drogheda areas, Callan won seats in both put the gamble didn't pay off for Frank Godfrey.
First time candidate Michelle Hall who won a seat for Labour in Drogheda Rural.
Fianna fail candidate Anthony Moore with his fiance Venetia Taylor. It wasn't their day but they're getting married on Sunday. At least they have the honeymoon in Turkey to look forward to.
The Byrne family were out in force to support Fianna Fail candidate James Byrne
The sports hall in the Redeemer Resource Centre in Dundalk may be a good venue for basketball or badminton but for a marathon election count it is a disaster.
The long distance runners of the political classes, candidates, party workers, tallypeople and sundry hacks, spent 14 hours hovering around in the overheated, airless atmosphere of “The Redeemer” watching the count staff work fitfully their way through mountains of paper.
Exciting it wasn’t. Even the count staff had plenty of time to fill and were very inventive at finding ways to do it. At one stage a group of them were eating bananas and having a contest to see who could throw the skins into a bin. A sort of slippery coconut shy.
Thanks to the tallyers and their dark arts, the results of these affairs, which move at a snail’s pace, can be pretty accurately predicted long before the official count actually starts. The less enthusiastic of us were sorely tempted to leave early.
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The Drogheda Life team, both of us, succumbed to that temptation and left at about 11.30 pm exhausted and somewhat disenchanted with the whole proportional representation process. Even the prospect of seeing Paul Bell being elected on the first count couldn’t keep us in the room.
After a night of fitful sleep with the only sense of normality being supplied by the Garda helicopter buzzing around in the skies up above, Sunday morning came around all too quickly and we were back in the van heading North on the M1 once again.
We just missed Pio Smith’s election being announced as well but once again the tallyers were spot on. The red wave of Labour was very much in the ascendant in the wee county bucking the national trend.
An hour or so later it was announced that Fine Gael’s Baltray veteran, Oliver Tully, was elected on the fifth count. The score for Drogheda was now Labour two, Fine Gael one.
Unfortunately Oliver couldn’t make it to the count on day two as he was in hospital having cut the retina in his left eye on Saturday morning as he was taking down one of his election posters outside Termonfeckin Church where there was confirmations taking place. Just another seven seats to be decided, this could take a while.
On count six in Drogheda Rural Kevin Callan was declared elected with 1164 votes. Would this be the first of two seats for the Drogheda barrister? Perhaps he knows what the legal situation is about what to do when a candidate wins two seats. The consensus in the room is that it would be up to the council members to decide jointly on who to co-opt. Looking forward to that debate already.
The Drogheda Rural count staff must have been on a mission to get home for the Sunday dinner because, at just five minutes to two, they had the job done and both Michelle Hall and Tom Cunningham were elected on the seventh count to great roars of approval from the Labour and Sinn Féin camps respectively.
It was good to see the old trooper that is Tommy Byrne and his wife Kathleen and extended family, which of course includes Deputy Thomas Byrne, arriving to support James, the latest in the Byrne branch of Fianna Fail to enter public life on his first electoral outing as a candidate.
As proceedings creaked into the final phase, Sinn Féin’s popular Drogheda candidate Joanna Byrne was elected on the eighth count with a final tally of 1372 votes.
Fianna Fail candidate Anthony Moore was next to bite the dust when his first ever bid for a seat went down in flames on the ninth count and he was eliminated with 589 votes.
It wasn’t all bad news for Anthony though. He has another big day to look forward to on Sunday next when he gets married to Venetia Taylor after which it’s off to Turkey for a few day's R&R to recover after the campaign and then, later in the year, the official honeymoon in Chile.
It was down to the wire time now for the remaining four candidates with just three seats remaining. Kevin Callan was in the lead on 1124 votes followed by James Byrne on 1076, Paddy McQuillan on 1035 and Frank Godfrey staring retirement in the face after a long career in local politics, on 772.
Frank Godfrey was gracious in defeat as he listened to returning officer Joe McGuinness announce the last three seats the first of which went to Kevin Callan on 1292, James Byrne on the quota of 1251 exactly and Paddy McQuillan with 1086 votes was deemed to be elected without reaching the quota.
The final results for both Drogheda Urban and Rural are as follows: