Although there is no change to the party structure in Erne West following the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council elections, there will be a number of new faces in the Council chamber.

Chris McCaffrey of Sinn Féin and the SDLP’s Adam Gannon are two of the youngest Councillors elected at 23 and 24 years old respectively.

McCaffrey polled strongly on first preference votes with 1,136 however he had to wait until stage four of the count to be officially elected without reaching the quota.

For Gannon, it was to be a more nerve-wracking wait.

The seat was previously held by Brendan Gallagher who did not stand this time round for the SDLP and it was not sure if the party would be able to hold on to the seat.

First preference votes dropped for the SDLP from 962 in 2014 to 611.

The SDLP candidate was in the bottom three in votes after first preferences were counted and had to rely on transfers to overtake the third Sinn Féin candidate Fionnuala Leonard.

Speaking after his election, Gannon believes that his party appeal to a broad spectrum of the community and this is what eventually got him over the line.

“It was close all the way and it just shows the wide appeal of SDLP that it go so many transfers,” said Gannon.

“To start on .49 per cent quota and to get across the line quite comfortably in the end was quite an achievement.”

For McCaffery, who is believed to be the youngest ever candidate elected in Fermanagh, this is another part of his journey with Sinn Féin, a party he joined at 14 years old.

“Delighted to be elected in my local area. I’m the youngest ever person to win an election in Fermanagh and to win a seat in Fermanagh in Council.

“I recognise the importance and significance of that. It has been a long hard journey to get here.

“I’m honoured the people have backed me and given the support. Now they have somebody who will be able to work for them and striving to advance our goals.”

Sinn Féin returned two Councillors again in the ward with Anthony Feely being re-elected alongside McCaffrey.

Both newly-elected Councillors are determined to bring a fresh and energetic approach to the Council.

“I’ll bring new energy and life into Council. I recognise issues that some Councillors don’t that apply specifically to the youth,” said McCaffrey.

“People want change. 100 per cent bring fresh ideas and a fresh approach as a young person,” added Gannon.

The UUP’s Alex Baird is again the only Unionist Councillor from the area, as he topped the poll again just like in 2019 although with a vote of almost 300 hundred votes fewer.

“I was fortunate I was able to top the poll five years ago and grateful to the Unionist people of the area who put their trust in me to give them four more years’ service.”

Independent Councillor Bernice Swift completed the five elected Councillors in Erne West although her first preference vote did drop slightly from 2014.

Councillor Swift has vowed to continue to fight for the rural communities.

“I am absolutely thrilled and ecstatic to exceed the quota and I am delighted that all my voters have returned me to absolutely represent and be their strong voice as the rural independent for Erne West,” said Councillor Swift.