The late Tony Gregory was a phenomenon in Ireland. Call him Dublin's John Sewell. He was first elected to parliament as a citizens' independent from the inner-city district of Dublin Central in 1982, but he had been a member of Dublin City Council since 1979. A former member of the Marxist "Official Sinn Fein," his platform was poverty, social justice, and improvement of his neglected district.
The February 1982 election produced a hung parliament. He immediately achieved national prominence through the famous "Gregory Deal", which he negotiated with Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey. In return for supporting Haughey as Taoiseach, Gregory was guaranteed a massive cash injection for his inner-city Dublin constituency. Although Gregory was reviled in certain quarters for effectively holding a government to ransom, his uncompromising commitment to the poor was widely admired. Fianna Fáil lost power in the November 1982 general election, and not all of the promises in the Gregory Deal were delivered. Although he never held a Cabinet position, he remained one of the country's most recognised Dáil deputies. He always refused to wear a tie in the Dáil chamber stating that many of his constituents could not afford them. He died of cancer this January.
For Tony to win one of the four seats in Dublin Central under STV was a lot easier than trying to hold the seat in a winner-take-all by-election. Last time he ran second, after Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.
His "Gregory Group" included Maureen O'Sullivan, a Dublin Councillor and his long-time election agent. They ran her as his successor in the by-election yesterday, and she won. She got only 26.9% on the first count, but picked up support as the count went on -- including, remarkably, the largest share of transfers from Bertie Ahern's brother who stood fifth. Labour's Ivan Bakic, running third, never caught up to Maureen's vote, and on the last count enough of her voters transferred to Maureen to put her in.