End of the line for Oksana

End of the line for Oksana

8 May 2019

SINN Fein’s Oksana McMahon, Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s current vice-chairwoman, lost her seat in Crotlieve in an election count of mixed fortunes for many last weekend.

Another high profile casualty was SDLP veteran Michael Carr, from Warrenpoint, who lost his seat after 18 years, with so-called big party alternatives scooping up seats almost at will at times.

Independent candidate, Jarlath Tinnelly, produced a stunning result, topping the poll with 1,412 votes — a whopping 672 more than he polled in 2014.

Within minutes of being the first candidate elected in the DEA, Tinnelly suggested that some big parties had pushed too hard on national issues, such as Brexit, for a local government election.           

He said people were really concerned about bread and butter issues, with his election result a far cry from his performance five years ago when, remarkably, he was the last of the council’s 41 members to be elected.

Tinnelly said be believed he had received the support of the electorate as he was a “hard working, diligent councillor looking after local issues with people on the ground”.

His election last Friday night came as McMahon, a Ukrainian-born Sinn Fein councillor lost her seat after just one term, with Carr, a veteran of many elections, also bowing out.

Independents certainly made their mark in Crotlieve with former Sinn Fein member Mark Gibbons securing a seat after polling an impressive 1,189 first preference votes. 

Indeed the performance of Jarlath Tinnelly and Gibbons, alongside that of Jim Boylan, who failed to secure a seat, saw the Independents claim almost a 30% share of the vote.

Elsewhere, Sinn Fein’s Gerry O’Hare secured a seat after polling 1,286 first preference votes as did Warrenpoint’s Mickey Ruane who polled 812 first preference votes. 

While rumours were circulating in the count centre that Ruane was under pressure and may not make it, he secured a seat and is expected to resume his position as the council’s Sinn Fein leader.

Despite losing veteran Carr, the SDLP was delighted to return two councillors in Crotlieve. The experienced Declan McAteer, who topped the poll in 2014 with 1,389 votes, saw his vote dip slightly to 1,175.

Party officials were also pleased that former South Down MLA Karen McKevitt secured a seat on the council and is making a welcome return to local politics in place of former council chairwoman Gillian Fitzpatrick, who stood down.

Sinn Fein also secured almost 30% of the vote, with the SDLP taking a 27% share. The remainder of the vote was shared between the UUP (6.2%), Alliance (4.2%) and the DUP (3.2%).