Belfast Telegraph

European election recount begins in Ireland South constituency

The recount of all 755,000 ballots was ordered as Sinn Fein and the Green Party battled it out for the final European Parliament seat.

There are more than 130 count staff and 20 supervisors counting the ballots (Niall Carson/PA)
There are more than 130 count staff and 20 supervisors counting the ballots (Niall Carson/PA)

A full recount of European election ballot papers has begun in the Ireland South constituency.

The recount of all 755,000 ballots was ordered as Sinn Fein and the Green Party battled it out for the final European Parliament seat in the country.

The counting for the 12-county constituency began on Tuesday morning, after a recount was officially called for last Thursday.

Gardai have been providing 24-hour security over the ballot papers at the Nemo Rangers GAA Club in Cork over the long weekend.

There are more than 130 count staff and 20 supervisors counting the ballots, and Returning Officer Martin Harvey told RTE Radio he hoped that the count could be finished by the weekend, despite initial predictions that it could go on for more than 28 days.

Sinn Fein candidate Liadh Ni Riada made the request for a recount and recheck on Wednesday night when just 327 votes separated her and the Green Party’s Grace O’Sullivan on the 18th count.

Ms O’Sullivan tweeted on Tuesday that she was “optimistic” and “hopeful it won’t take the full six weeks predicted”.

Despite a recheck of Ms Ni Riada and Ms O’Sullivan’s 200,000 ballot papers on Thursday changing the outcome by just one vote, Sinn Fein pressed ahead with the request for a full recount.

Mr Harvey said on Thursday: “Having completed the recheck of Liadh Ni Riada and Grace O’Sullivan’s papers, Liadh Ni Riada has confirmed that she wishes to proceed with a full recount of all the papers.”

After the announcement, he said: “It’s difficult but it can be overcome and we will overcome it and we will do it. But unfortunately it will take time.”

He described it as “democracy in action”.

Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly and Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher took the first two seats in the five-seat constituency earlier in the week.

Independents 4 Change candidate Mick Wallace looks set to take the third seat with 112,441 votes.

The race for the fourth seat and fifth – the so-called “Brexit seat” – has been tight throughout the count.

PA

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