Former Taoiseach visits Offaly count as SF gain seats for first time since 1923

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen dropped into the count centre to watch proceedings in Co Offaly today.

Mr Cowen, whose brother TD Barry Cowen was also at the count centre, explained that he was attending as private citizen as he declined to comment. This local election is the first since 1932 not to feature the Cowen name.

Despite an unprecedented rise in support for Sinn Féin in Offaly, Fianna Fáil remain the largest party on Offaly County Council.

Just two of the19 seats remain to be filled in the county this evening, where so far, six Fianna Fáil, five Independents, three Sinn Féin and three Fine Gael candidates have been elected.

One of the two remaining seats in the Tullamore electoral area will go to a Fianna Fáil candidate while the final seat while go to either Danny Owens (FF) and Sean O'Brien (Ind) who were tied at 1,230 votes on the eleventh count.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin - who haven't had a representative at Offaly County Council since 1923 - have gained three seats, Fine Gael have lost three, halving their representation in the chamber.

The rising popularity of Independent and Sinn Féin candidates was evident in the first preference votes which saw to Sinn Féin candidates and an Independent top the polls in the three electoral areas.

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