Fianna Fáil’s Declan Breathnach was the big casualty in Louth as Labour’s Ged Nash regained the seat he lost in 2016. He joins Imelda Munster, Ruairi O Murchu, Fergus O’Dowd and Peter Fitzpatrick as the five TDs who will represent Louth in the next Dáil Éireann.
After the tenth count at The Carnbeg Hotel in Dundalk, Nash, O’Dowd and Fitzpatrick were returned after the distribution of Mark Dearey’s votes. He was the last man to be eliminated. His 8,497 votes were spread among all four candidates still in the race at the end.
Ged Nash received 3,021 to take his tally to 11,659, Fergus O’Dowd got 1,123 to bring his total to 11,282 and Peter Fitzpatrick ended on 10,779 after getting 1,791 transfers from Dearey from the Green Party.
For the first time in modern history, there are now three Louth TDs based in Drogheda – Munster, Nash and O’Dowd.
On another historic day in Louth, Breathnach’s loss means that for the first time in the history of the state Louth has no Fianna Fáil deputy in the Dáil. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick’s election means he is the first Independent to be returned in Louth since James Coburn in 1933.
Breathnach had seemed down and out earlier in the day but after he received 2,225 transfers from running mate James Byrne, he was back in contention. However, it was difficult to see where his transfers were coming from to maintain that late burst. In the end, it was the other candidates high number of transfers from Dearey and his lack thereof that put paid to Breathnach.
On Sunday evening, Breathnach spoke of his disappointment of the Fianna Fáil vote for both me and his running mate. On Monday morning, he had all but conceded. He told LouthNow.ie that he planned on spending more time with his children and that he ‘had a good innings’.
Nash returns to the Dáil after spending four years in the Senate. His third place finish with a total of 11,659 saw him finish just below the quota but having endured a horrid election in 2016, Nash performed against the tide of a poor Labour showing again in 2020 to return.
The Drogheda born TD always looked in a strong position when it became apparent that Dearey’s transfers would be key. Speaking to the crowd after the final count figures were announced, he said, “I’ve been thinking for the last four years what I would say if I got back here. This time four years ago was a difficult time for me. I lost the election and that very week I lost my father-in-law Joe.”