Fine Gael hopeful John McGahon tonight conceded defeat on a tough day for the first time candidate as first count results mean he won’t be elected in his maiden campaign.
McGahon had come in to this week’s election hoping he and running partner Fergus O’Dowd could match the party’s success in the 2016 General Election, where both Fine Gael candidates – O’Dowd and then party man Peter Fitzpatrick – were elected to the Dáil.
McGahon, at just 29, was the youngest of 15 candidates but had six years worth of experience on Louth County Council to call on. Unfortunately, an energetic campaign did not prove to be enough this time around on what has been a tough day overall for his party.
The Dundalk man received 4,442 first preference votes which positioned him in eighth place in the polls, 1,382 votes behind Labour’s Ged Nash who currently holds the final seat at this stage.
Speaking to LouthNow.ie, McGahon was in a reflective mood as he discussed the results; “It was always a huge ask to win a second seat for Fine Gael in Louth, especially when you’re swimming against the tide.”
“We ran a really positive campaign. We were actually talking about issues in Dundalk, how we can make things better,” McGahon added as he remarked on other parties’ focus on criticisms.
McGahon was quick to highlight the effort his youthful team had put in to his campaign and emphasised his ambition to return to contest in the next election; “I have no doubt that there’ll be better days to come. You have to lose a final to win a final. I’ll very much be back come the next election.”
Sinn Féin have been the story of the day, with both candidates sweeping the polls in Louth and McGahon admitted the scale of the victory surprised him; It’s a great day for Sinn Féin and credit where it’s due. It’s very, very interesting because they were a beaten docket at the Local Election.”