General election 2016: the farmer votes
The count is well into its second day in general election 2016, as tallying continues in some of the 40 constituencies across the country.


Fine Gael, as it emerged late on Friday and early on Saturday, are losing seats heavily compared its outing in 2011. Labour has been decimated. Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have made gains while the Independents are flying.

Éamon Ó Cuív, the Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman, was the first big hitter from farming to be elected. He passed the quota shortly after 11am on Sunday. Then former ICMSA president Jackie Cahill won a seat in the ferociously competitive Tipperary constituency.

Outgoing Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney was then elected on Sunday afternoon, shortly after 2pm. Martin Ferris in Kerry is Sinn Féin's agriculture spokesman and retained his seat. Fine Gael's Andrew Doyle, chairman of the Oireachtas agriculture committee, was elected in Wicklow.

Junior ag minister Tom Hayes in Tipperary was the big casuality in farming circles when he lost his seat on Sunday.

A total of 150 TDs have been elected. There are 158 seats to be filled in total.

Current state of the parties - Fine Gael 49, Fíanna Fáil 43, Sinn Féin 22, Independents 16, Labour 6, AAA-PBP 5, Independent Alliance 4, Social Democrats 3, Green Party 2,

Monday moving day

There was further clarity of seat postions late into the night on Sunday and into Monday morning. As of 11am on Monday, there are just 10 seats to be filled.

Longford /Westmeath

After a full recount was called, there are still three seats to be filled here. Independent Kevin "Boxer" Moran has taken the second seat. Fine Gael is likely to get one of the remaining two, with Wille Penrose now slightly favoured to take the last seat, but it's a close call with him and Sinn Féin's Paul Hogan. Penrose, who served on the Oireachtas ag committee, had pretty much admitted defeat on Saturday. Lazarus who? There is a second recount under way on Tuesday afternoon which has been called by Fine Gael after Penrose jumped just two votes ahead Fine Gael's James Bannon on Monday night. Prediction FG 1, Labour 1.


As predicted on Sunday night, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael shared the last two seats there with Eamon Scanlon of FF and Tony McLoughlin of FG making it in shortly before midnight on Sunday.


As we predicted, Fine Gael pciked up the two remaining seats after the count was suspended on Sunday. The outgoing chief whip Paul Kehoe and farmer Michael D'Arcy both joined Brendan Howlin, James Browne and Mick Wallace in the Dáil.


The majoirty of seats to be filled are in the big Dublin constituencies of Dublin Bay North, Dublin South Central and Dublin Souh West. Not too many farmers there.

Predicted final outcome Fine Gael 50, Fianna Fáil 44, Sinn Féin 23, Independents 16, Labour 8, AAA/PBP 7, Independent Alliance 5, Social Democrats 3, Green Party 2.

Ferris in, Deenihan out

Sinn Fein's agriculture spokesman Martin Ferris haen elected in Kerry. Jimmy Deenihan has lost his seat, with his running mate Brendan Griffin and Fianna Fail's John Brassil joining Ferris and the Healy-Rae's in the Dáil.

Independents' Day

The extent to which Independents have dominated this election means the above headline, is , along with the revitalisation of Fianna Fail, the story of the election. In Tipperary, there are three Independent TD's, with Fianna Fail and Labour sharing the last two seats. Fine Gael has no seat. In Kerry, there are two Healy-Rae's safely elected, with thousands of votes to spare, with no-one else yet over the line afer nine counts. It's worth looking at the origin of the independents. The Healy-Rae's , like Mattie McGrath in Tipperary, are Fianna Fail gene pool, Michael Lowry is an ex-Fine Gael minister, of course. Seamus Healy is urban-based, with no link to either of the main parties.

Hayes defeated

Tom Hayes has lost his seat. Outgoing Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture Tom Hayes earlier acknowledged to the Irish Farmers Journal that he was on the brink of losing his seat. Hayes trailed Alan Kelly of Labour by over a thousand votes, with only Jackie Cahill's surplus of 2,000 votes to be distributed. The Tipperary constituency will thus return no Fine Gael TD, with Noel Coonan also losing out.

Cahill elected

Jackie Cahill has been elected in Tipperary. The former ICMSA President has taken a seat for Fianna Fáil, having benefited from a huge transfer from running mate Michael Smith. Cahill gained almost 5,000 votes, to comfortably elect him.


In Wexford, farmer Michael Darcy was elected on the 13th count of a marathon that ran into Saturday night. It seemed that Paul Kehoe would join him, gaining two seats for Fine Gael with only 23% of the vote. However, Kehoe, who has been tipped as a potential Minister of Agriculture should Fine Gael be part of the next government, must endure a full recount as Sinn Fein Johnny Mythen is only 50 votes behind him on the final count. That will take place on Monday, but will not affect Brendan Howlin, Mick Wallace, James Browne, or Darcy



Outgoing Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has come through the "group of death" constituency of Cork south central along with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and the party’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath. Coveney took the third seat after the 11th count without reaching the quota.

Coveney has been looking at the bigger picture, though. Will he be taking over as leader of Fine Gael?



Another junior minor in the Department of Agriculture Anne Phelan was in a tight spot in Carlow Kilkenny. Fianna Fáil had amazingly been on track to get three seats but in a rare defeat for FF on counting day, the party got two seats instread of three. Shortly before midnight on Saturday John McGuinness and Bobby Alyward took the two FF seats there. John Paul Phelan and Pat Deering won seats for Fine Gael and Kathleen Funchion took a seat for Sinn Féin completing the five seats. Lots of excitement there. Deering looked out of it for most of the day.

Ó Cuív


Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív, as expected, has taken the first seat in Galway west. The only unexpected thing is that the count took nine counts to get him across the line.

Ó Cuív, who removes the Ó from the ballot paper to be nearer the top, has been speaking to RTÉ news.



Heather Humphreys, the minister responsible for the proposed extension of the burning and hedgecutting dates which the Irish Farmers Journal exclusively revealed in December, is set to top the poll in Cavan Monaghan. Humphreys, sister of IFA Ulster / north Leinster chairman Bert Stewart, had been rumoured to be in contention for the agriculture minister in the next Dáil. That was, of course, before the Fine Gael implosion. Heather has been elected and she got in on the first count.



Fine Gael's Andrew Doyle in Wicklow held the position of chairman of the Joint Oireachtas agriculture committee and won back his seat in Wicklow. He had been in a battle with former party colleague and Renua defector Billy Timmins but came home safely in the end.



Former agriculture minister Brendan Smith of Fianna Fáil in Cavan Monaghan retained his seat in Cavan. He was safe from early on.



Sinn Féin's agriculture spokesman Martin Ferris got in under the radar in Kerry. Brothers Michael and Danny Healy-Rae stole the show and set the carnival mood sway in Kerry. Ferris comfortably came home.



Martin Heydon is a farmer from Co Kildare and he is also chairman of Fine Gael's internal agriculture committee. More importantly, perhaps, is that he has been elected at approximately 7.30pm on Saturday for south Kildare. It has since tanspired that Heydon has topped the poll there. Good performance for a TD with cabinet ambition.



Co Galway farmer and Roscommon Galway candidate is expected to be elected on Saturday evening after Denis Naughten topped the poll there and was elected on the first count. Fitzmaurice is an outgong Independent TD and friend of MEP Luke "Ming" Flanagan. After six counts, Fitzmaurice was finally elected. Fitzmaurice took the seat from Flanagan in the 2014 by-election.



Former ICMSA president Jackie Cahill has taken the third seat in the Tipperary constituency. Cahill was elected on the sixth count after taking almost 5,000 transfers from FF coleague Michael Smith.


Kevin O'Keeffe running in Cork east is a dairy farmer and son of former Fianna Fáil TD Ned O'Keeffe. O'Keeffe was elected on the ninth count as was constituency colleague Sean Sherlock of Labour. Noel Coonan has been eliminated. Michael McNamara in Clare has lost his seat. Former dairy farmer and FG TD Michael Creed won back his seat in Cork north west. Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has been elected too.

There have be no political clichés used in this report yet so... it’s too close to call, all these figures come with a health warning, we’ll be here well into the night and transfers will be critical.

Sunday updates

Read more

Full coverage: General election 2016

Farmer vote for Fine Gael holding firm

The farmer's daily wrap: co-op merger, road protest and Teagasc waiting lists
Here is your news round-up of the five top farming stories and weather outlook for Wednesday.

Weather forecast

Met Éireann expects mist and fog to lift on Wednesday morning, giving way to a mainly dry and couldy day with some sunny periods. Patches of light rain or drizzle may drift on to northern and northwestern coasts. Highest temperatures of 11°C to 14°C are forecast in moderate west to northwest breezes.

In the news

  • LacPatrick and Lakeland shareholders have approved a merger between their two co-ops.
  • Co Wexford farmers in dispute with the builders of the M11 motorway extension have set up a second roadblock – watch and listen.
  • The owner of a meat factory has bought a Co Mayo farm for just over €3,000/ac.
  • Odile Evans reports on the Irish presence at the global SIAL food show in Paris – watch the videos.
  • Teagasc's new chair Liam Herlihy has warned that students are on waiting lists for some courses as the agency faces finance and recruitment bottlenecks.
  • Coming up this Wednesday

  • Soil health, sheep farmers and global food business on our weekly podcast.
  • MEPs take legislation on fairness in the food chain to the next step.
  • Tullamore Farm update.
    Students on waiting lists as Teagasc faces finance and recruitment bottlenecks
    Liam Herlihy has made his first public appearance as Teagasc chair before the Oireachtas and highlighted funding, staffing and climate change priorities.

    The new chair of the Teagasc authority, Liam Herlihy, told the Oireachtas agriculture committee this Tuesday that rules on the agency's access to finance and difficulties in recruiting staff are affecting its ability to deliver agricultural education and research.

    Teagasc is not allowed to take out loans or run an overdraft and has been dependent on land sales or once-off Government grants for major investments in the past.

    "Not having the capacity to borrow money is an impediment to the development of agriculture and the delivery of our objective," Herlihy said. "We cannot keep selling fields forever."

    We're facing challenges in recruiting and retaining top calibre staff

    This has been compounded by staffing issues. "We're facing challenges in recruiting and retaining top-calibre staff," he said, highlighting the particularly low salaries Teagasc is obliged to offer to young qualified researchers.

    In recent years, its education section has relied on short-term lecturers to keep courses going and this needs to be renewed, the new chair said.

    "We have a difficulty in accommodating the number of students who are on a waiting list for both part-time and distance learning courses unless we are able to continue to recruit contract teaching staff," he warned.

    Fine Gael senator Tim Lombard said this raised concerns as the age profile of Teagasc staff was likely to increase.

    Trees on dairy farms

    This comes at a time when Teagasc's research effort is increasingly turning to climate change issues. Its economic studies will now focus on establishing the cost of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, and Brexit.

    Herlihy said a key area of development would be sustainable forestry.

    "It is particularly important where we include native woodlands, on dairy farms in particular, as we deal with the growth of dairy farms within the context of climate change," he said. This answered concerns from Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill who said: "We have to be careful with expansion that we don't lose our green image."

    Herlihy also highlighted the consequences of climate change for farmers, saying that this year's extreme weather events may happen again.

    The target we had to increase milk production by 50% up to the year 2020 is likely to be met this year

    Yet "despite the very difficult year we've had in 2018, the Food Harvest target we had to increase milk production by 50% up to the year 2020 is likely to be met this year and I think this is something to be seen as very positive," he added.

    He was more cautious about the drystock sector, saying: "The level of profitability in beef farming is a concern."

    In crop research, Herlihy said Teagasc would be redoubling its efforts to develop more resistant varieties "as various agrochemicals will be withdrawn".

    Read more

    Cashflow difficulties at Teagasc brought before Public Accounts Committee

    Herlihy becomes Teagasc chair

    Teagasc get first farmer chair for 30 years

    Incentives needed for climate-friendly spreading – Teagasc

    Watch and listen: second motorway roadblock by Wexford farmers
    The stand-off between M11 motorway builders BAM and Wexford landowners is coming to a head as work is halted at a crucial stage. Pat O'Toole reports from the construction site.

    Wexford landowners set up a second blockade of the M11 extension works this Tuesday. At 10am, a procession of farm machinery crossed on to the motorway at Oulartard, two deep, completely blocking construction equipment.

    With a line of lorries transporting road material from a temporary cement plant a few kilometres to the south, work quickly ground to a halt.

    This is the latest in a series of daily escalations in the dispute between landowners and contractors BAM. It means the M11 extension is now blocked at two points, with the Deacon family roadblock still in place about 10km to the north.

    IFA south Leinster chair Tom Short meets representatives of BAM construction at the site of the M11 in Tinnacross, Co Wexford. \ Pat O'Toole

    IFA South Leinster chair Tom Short led discussions with senior BAM representatives on behalf of the landowners. They want a meeting involving all stakeholders – BAM, Dragados, the other main contractors, the national roads and rail infrastructure authority Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Wexford County Council.

    Plant machinery at a standstill during a farmers' protest at the construction site of the M11 in Tinnacross, Co Wexford. \ Pat O'Toole

    For its part, the BAM representatives wanted the roadblock cleared so work could resume.

    The response when that was relayed back to the farmers was swift and clear.

    The roadblock would be remaining in place until talks were arranged, and landowners wanted to see a clear change in attitude to dealing with the issues they are presenting.

    Listen to Norman Kearney, one of the farmers affected, in our podcast below:

    A list of itemised problems with over 20 landowners has been collated by the ad-hoc committee set up following last Saturday's meeting. This dispute may escalate further before it is resolved.

    Read more

    Farmers blockade motorway constructors

    Progress on harvest access around M11 bypass

    Wexford farmers blockade motorway construction

    Road contractors BAM pushing Wexford landowners to the brink