Belfast Telegraph

Day of waiting at Midlands north west as no second seat announced

Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness topped the poll on Monday receiving 134,630 votes.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan discusses the numbers with independent MEP candidate Luke Flanagan (Aoife Moore/PA)
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan discusses the numbers with independent MEP candidate Luke Flanagan (Aoife Moore/PA)

It was a long day of waiting in Castlebar Co Mayo as the midlands north west constituency failed to elect their second MEP.

Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness topped the poll on Monday receiving 134,630 votes, the quota to be reached was 118,986.

A day of declarations and exclusions followed on Tuesday but no candidate had reached the quota to gain the second seat by late on Tuesday evening.

Frontrunner for the seat, Luke “Ming” Flanagan has had his head down crunching figures since early on Saturday with his team, confident that he will retain his position and return to Brussels with Ms McGuinness.

There are four seats in total, those contending for the remaining seats along with Mr Flanagan are Sinn Fein’s Matt Carthy, Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh, Fianna Fail’s Brendan Smith and independent Peter Casey.

Exit polls predicted Mr Flanagan may not have as high polling numbers as his previous election in 2014.

“Polls make you think,” he said.

“You’re always asking questions when you’re in politics and when you get new information you always look at that, but it didn’t tally with the response I was getting on the doorsteps and out canvassing.

“The good news is my vote held up, it’s close to 14.6%, I’m absolutely delighted with that when there was such quality candidates like (Green Party representative) Saoirse McHugh.”

Asked whether he was surprised that Mr Casey was outpolling Ms McHugh, who was initially tipped as a late contender for the seat, Mr Flanagan hit out at RTE.

“It’s as simple as this; the media are the gatekeepers to democracy and in this democracy, we had a situation where Peter Casey got wall-to-wall coverage, and Saoirse got four minutes on Prime Time, and from that she surged.

“The question has to be asked of the state broadcaster is what would the result of this election would be if Saoirse McHugh had got an equal billing with Peter Casey, I’ll tell you, she’d be an MEP.”

Asked if he thought the failed presidential and Seanad candidate Mr Casey would run for a TD position in a general election, Mr Flanagan was unimpressed.

“I have opinions on lots of things in this world and fortunately now I don’t have to have an opinion on that man because he is now irrelevant.”

A spokeswoman for the broadcaster said: “RTE is satisfied that its coverage was fair, objective and impartial, and is fully compliant with all its statutory and regulatory obligations.”

PA

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