Poll topper Fine Gael’s Tom Hayes said the party vote in the constituency sent out a clear message to the new government that acute hospital services in South Tipperary cannot be transferred.
The Fine Gael TD said he was extremely proud of the 21.5% vote he received. He has now topped the poll in the last three general elections (2011, 2007 and 2002) as well as topping the poll in the 2001 by election when he was first elected to the Dail.
He vowed to use that vote to ‘fight the corner’ of South Tipperary General Hospital.
“For me to top the poll and for Michael Murphy to do so well and be in contention for that third seat will be the cornerstone of my argument to protect hospital services in South Tipperary,” declared a jubilant Deputy Hayes .
He said James O’Reilly had visited the hospital on two occasions andEnda Kenny had held meetings with hospital staff and they were well aware of the desire to retain the acute hospital services in the area.
“We need the services to be retained. I am from Cashel and I know how everybody in the town and throughout the constituency are united in their determination to hold onto the acute hospital services,” he said.
Deputy Hayes said that during the course of the election he told hospital staff and the people of South Tipperary that James O’Reilly and Enda Kenny were committed to a policy of retention of acute services in South Tipperary. The Fine Gael vote in this constituency sends out a clear message and I intend to use that vote to protect the services. Fine Gael are now in power and I will be fighting over the next five years to ensure that those hospital services are retained,” he said.
The Fine Gael poll topper, who was elected on the fourth count, said the hospital, personal debt and jobs were the main issues on the doorsteps and he felt that overall jobs was the one that affected most people.
“I met so many people who had just lost their jobs, long term unemployed and so many people who were waiting to go to Australia. Young people had no work, these are young people who are highly educated and talented. I met parents who had invested in their children’s education who were trying to pay back their debts now and there are no jobs there for the children,” said Deputy Hayes who received 8,898 first preference votes.
He knew from the campaign that people and families were under enormous pressure as a result of personal debt and how difficult it was to survive from week to week.
Deputy Hayes said it was obvious that people wanted change and that they believed in the policies put forward by Fine Gael during the campaign.
“Our message and our policies were endorsed by the people all over the country and in South Tipperary where the party received a magnificent vote,” he said.
The Fine Gael vote was up by over 13% said Deputy Hayes and he was very proud of the organisation that supported both himself and Michael Murphy.
“We raised our vote so high, right across the constituency. It was up in the working class areas, in the farming community, among business people. We did well everywhere, particularly in West Tipperary where we lost out on a bit the last time. We firmed it up in West Tipperary this time and we were very solid throughout the constituency,” he said.
The former party chairman said it was a fantastic result for the party and for the organisation in South Tipperary and a great achievement “for both myself and Michael Murphy as we were the ones to put our names on the ballot paper,”
He said the vote for Fine Gael in the constituency was unprecedented. He had received a vote that allowed him to top the poll again and his running colleague had received a significant vote which had put him in the running for the third seat.
“It was an amazing vote for Fine Gael in a constituency that would never have been that strong for the party and gives us a great foundation for our policies to be implemented,” he said.