Belfast Telegraph

Mairead McGuinness claims first Midlands Northwest seat for Fine Gael

The incumbent MEP said she was ‘relieved and a bit tired’.

The incumbent MEP topped the poll with 134,630 first-preference votes (Brian Lawless/PA)
The incumbent MEP topped the poll with 134,630 first-preference votes (Brian Lawless/PA)

Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness has taken the first seat in the Midlands Northwest constituency.

Speaking immediately after her election, Ms McGuinness said she had already drawn up a to-do list for Brussels and thanked everyone who voted for her.

Ms McGuinness said she was “delighted, relieved and a bit tired”.

“I am deeply honoured and humbled by the size of the mandate I have received,” she said.

“I feel a great sense of responsibility. I take it as a signal of approval for the work I have put in over the last five years from agriculture and food to the environment and my work on Brexit and a whole range of other issues.

“And I want to assure those who have voted for me, and the entire electorate, that there will be no let-up on my efforts over the next five years.”

The incumbent MEP topped the poll with 134,630 first-preference votes. The quota to reach was 118,986.

Independent MEP Luke “Ming” Flanagan came second to Ms McGuinness with 85,034 first-preference votes.

Sinn Fein’s Matt Carthy was third on 77,619 and Ms McGuinness’ running mate Maria Walsh received 64,500.

Independent Peter Casey beat Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh with 56,650. Ms McHugh received 51,019.

I think Luke (Flanagan) is going to be safe and then it's going to be myself, Maria Walsh, Peter Casey, Saoirse McHugh and an outside chance of Brendan Smith Matt Carthy

Speaking after the first declaration, Matt Carthy said he expected “a fight” for the three remaining seats, but he expected independent Luke “Ming” Flanagan to be re-elected.

“I think Luke is going to be safe and then it’s going to be myself, Maria Walsh, Peter Casey, Saoirse McHugh and an outside chance of Brendan Smith,” he said.

“We were always working under the contention that Peter (Casey) was going to be challenging for a seat.

“He has name recognition and name recognition in a European election is like gold dust.

“The big question RTE will be asking themselves is why they spend all this money on exit polls they still haven’t got one right.”

Fianna Fail candidate Anne Rabbitte received just 30,230 first-preference votes and said the party would have to reassess.

“I am sure over the coming weeks and months the post-mortem will continue to be done and I am sure I will play a part in feeding into it,” she said.

“I had a particular message, that message didn’t get out there. I didn’t have the platform for it, perhaps.”

Her running mate Brendan Smith received 42,814 votes.

No candidate reached the quota of 118,986 votes needed to be elected in the second or third or fourth count for the constituency.

Independent candidate Diarmuid Mulcahy; Patrick Greene, standing for Direct Democracy Ireland and Westmeath farmer James Miller were eliminated on the second, third and fourth counts respectively.

Mr Flanagan looks likely to take the second seat, with 87,188 votes by the end of the fourth count.

Mr Carthy was on 78,612 and Fine Gael’s Ms Walsh was on 70,660.

Counting was suspended after midnight on Monday, to be resumed on Tuesday morning.

A total of 3.5% of all the votes cast in the constituency were spoiled.

PA

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