Ward is set to make his Mark in the Dáil

By Maurice Garvey

WATCH:

A SEISMIC shift can be felt in the political landscape of Dublin Mid West, following the election of Sinn Féin’s Mark Ward to the Dáil in the by-election.

The party now have two of four seats in the constituency for the first time and while it is unlikely they will decide to run both Ward and Eoin Ó Broin in the General Election, it does signal a significant change of political ideation for the Mid West.

Anticipation

Just moments before Mark Ward (centre) was proclaimed winner of the Dublin Mid West by-election. With him were (left) Eoin Ó Broin TD, and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, along with Mark’s family and friends (Image: Maurice Garvey)

This was former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald’s seat, prior to her election to the European Parliament in May, and Fine Gael, perhaps thought Emer Higgins represented their best chance of a seat in the four by-elections held last week.

The social media campaign for Higgins backfired spectacularly with criticism levelled at her for her remarks on being a renter and finding it difficult to get a mortgage, despite being a councillor since 2011 with a party that has overseen the housing crisis, spiralling rents and increased homelessness.

Mark Ward and Sinn Féin ran a strong campaign over the last number of weeks, but so too did Fine Gael, with big hitters from both parties out in force during the canvassing to bat for the respective candidates.

Ultimately, Mark Ward’s hard work on the ground since he was co-opted to Eoin Ó Broin’s council seat in 2016, was a big factor in securing 24 per cent of the first preference vote.

He was in the lead by close to 1,000 votes after the first-preference votes, but observers in Adamstown Community Centre felt Higgins would close the gap via transfers from other eliminated candidates.

That she did, but not sufficiently enough throughout the day to seriously challenge for the seat – ultimately falling short by 525 votes.

A key moment was the transfers of Fianna Fáil candidate Shane Moynihan who was eliminated on the seventh count.

Moynihan was flagged early in the day at the count centre as a potential ‘kingmaker’ for either Ward or Higgins, and it was Ward who proved to be the beneficiary here, receiving 677 transfers, Higgins only securing 221.

With Independent councillor Paul Gogarty the last remaining candidate to transfer votes, this left Higgins with far too much ground to make up.

 Surrounded by his family, including his three children, his friends and party colleagues, Mark Ward was pensive ahead of the returning officer’s announcement, but overcome with joy as he was lifted onto the shoulders of fellow TD Eoin Ó Broin and Tallaght councillor Cathal King.

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