AS IT STANDS: Still only one elected in Laois/Offaly but final picture becoming clear
After five counts in the Laois/Offaly constituency, only one candidate has so far been elected but the picture for the remaining four seats is becoming very clear.
Brian Stanley was the runaway poll topper with the Sinn Fein candidate crossing the line on the first count with more than 5,000 votes to spare.
As the counts have progressed, six candidates have so far been eliminated leaving eight candidates battling it out for the remaining four seats.
But as it stands, and barring a major transfer shock, it's safe to call the final four seats.
With Ken Smollen's 3,640 votes currently being distributed, Fianna Fail's Sean Fleming and Barry Cowen will reach the quota sooner rather than later.
Charlie Flangan should also be safe while Carol Nolan is far enough ahead of the pack to start planning her return to Leinster House for a second term. In fact it is likely she will leapfrog Flanagan in the coming counts and could be the fourth of the five elected, an outstanding performance by an Independent candidate.
While she looks ultimately set to miss out on election, Green Party Senator Pippa Hackett has performed strongly for the Green Party. She is currently more than 1,900 votes behind Carol Nolan and while there are thousands of votes still to be transferred, it is going to be too big a gap to close. In saying that, she has proved very transfer friendly and has moved past both Fianna Fail's Peter Ormond and Fine Gael's Marcella Corcoran Kennedy as the counts have progressed.
Both Corcoran Kennedy and Ormond would need a miracle to get back into contention and for them and their parties, this election has been a disappointment. Fianna Fail felt they could take three in Laois/Offaly while Fine Gael are now left without a TD in Offaly for the first time since Tom Enright lost his seat to Pat Gallagher and Labour's 'Spring Tide' in 1992.
John Leahy is still in this election but with almost 3,000 votes to make up on Nolan, it seems just a matter of time before the councillor bows out of the race.
Brian Stanley ELECTED (First Count)
Sean Fleming TOTAL 9,736
Barry Cowen TOTAL 9,242
Charlie Flanagan TOTAL 8,203
Carol Nolan TOTAL 7,109
Pippa Hackett TOTAL 5,243
Marcella Corcoran TOTAL 4,783
Peter Ormond TOTAL 4,360
John Leahy TOTAL 4,192
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