Left wing independent Seamus Healy vowed after losing his seat to Fianna Fail’s Martin Mansergh in the 2007 General Election that he would be back and he fulfilled his pledge in style, clinching the constituency’s first seat and increasing his first preference vote by 54%.
The Workers & Unemployment Action Group leader leaped over poll topper Tom Hayes (FG) in the third count to become the first candidate to be declared elected in South Tipperary.
It was some reversal of fortune to the 2007 election when the former hospital administrator lost the last seat by a heartbreaking 59 votes to Fianna Fail’s Dr Martin Mansergh.
Dr Mansergh was the first of the election candidates to congratulate him on his victory and later magnanimously thanked him for the “loan” of his seat in his speech at the close of the count.
A huge cheer erupted from Healy’s large band of supporters when the results of the first count were announced revealing that his first preference vote had jumped by 3111 votes from the last election to 8818 just 78 votes behind Hayes.
Ironically, what pushed him over the quota was the distribution of the votes of eliminated Labour candidate Sen. Phil Prendergast, his former WUAG colleague, who left the group in a bitter split.
He benefited most from her transfers receiving 1723 compared to the 972 that went to Hayes.
After joyous renditions of Congratulations from his celebrating supporters died down in the count centre, Seamus Healy told The Nationalist: “When we were here in 2007 we said in English and Irish that Beimid ar ais arís (we’ll be back). We have done that and I am absolutely delighted.”
He said it was vitally important somebody like him with an alternative point of view to the “tax and cut” policies of the main parties had been elected to the new Dail.
Deputy Healy credited the huge increase in his personal vote to public support for the WUAG’s programme of policies, which included a “structured” default on the IMF/EU bailout deal and a wealth tax on the assets of the rich, which he estimated to be worth E290bn.
He and his supporters also repeatedly stressed to voters during the campaign the need to give him their No 1 votes, reminding them of how he lost his seat by a small margin of votes.
“There is now no doubt that in the last election we were targeted by other candidates, who said Healy would be fine and told voters to give me their second vote. That is not the way it works. We felt it was important to remind the public that their No 1 vote was absolutely vital for Seamus Healy.”
He reiterated that he won’t be willing to enter into an agreement to support a minority government and rejected the view that an independent like him won’t achieve much for South Tipperary.
“I couldn’t support the programmes that have been laid out and accepted by any of the main political parties, government or opposition. They are programmes of devastating cuts that are bearing heavily on ordinary people and a lot of very wealthy people are getting off scot free.”
Deputy Healy, who is a member of the United Left Alliance, argued he would work with other like minded independents in the Dail to ensure lower and middle income families targeted by the main parties for cuts, got a fair crack of the whip.
During his previous terms as TD, he argued that he worked harder and spoke in the Dail more often than any other South Tipperary TD highlighting issues affecting the people of the county and country.
His main priority as a TD will be jobs creation, particularly for unemployment black spots such as Carrick-on-Suir and Tipperary Town. “Neither town received any benefit from the Celtic Tiger years and there are now about 10,000 unemployed across the county. That has to be the major issue for the constituency in the coming period,” he said.