Belfast Telegraph

Midlands North West counting continues with Flanagan likely to retain seat

Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness was elected to the first of the four seats on Monday.

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

Another long day of counting has taken place in the Midlands North West constituency with Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan likely to retain his seat after no substantial changes.

Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness was elected to the first of the four seats on Monday after counting began in Castlebar, Co Mayo, on Sunday.

She will return to Brussels with a huge mandate of 134,630 votes – the quota for election stands at 118,986.

It is unlikely any other candidate will reach the quota apart from incumbent independent MEP Mr Flanagan, who on the 12th count remained in the lead for the second seat on 112,760 votes.

He is followed by Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh on 96,163 and Sinn Fein’s Matt Carthy on 91,396.

Mr Flanagan said his election was a “certainty”.

Rising star of the Green Party Saoirse McHugh was eliminated in the early hours of Wednesday morning but independent failed presidential candidate Peter Casey remained in the race.

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Sinn Fein candidate Matt Carthy with party leader Mary Lou McDonald at the count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo (Brian Lawless/PA)

Likely to be joining Ms McGuinness and Mr Flanagan is incumbent MEP Mr Carthy.

Although his share of the vote has decreased on 2014, the Sinn Fein representative should be safe in his position as he retained an over 20,000 vote lead on Mr Casey throughout the day.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald visited the count centre on Wednesday.

Although the decision was not certain “until it’s over”, she hailed Mr Carthy’s performance and “positive campaign” amid a turbulent time for the party, which polled badly in the local elections over the weekend.

Fine Gael newcomer Ms Walsh also looked likely to be headed for Brussels on Wednesday evening, with her vote count significantly increasing from transfers from other candidates.

Fianna Fail has polled poorly in the constituency, falling behind Mr Casey.

It fielded two candidates in Anne Rabbitte, who was eliminated on Tuesday night, and Brendan Smith, who was eliminated on Wednesday afternoon.

Counting is expected to go on well into the night.

PA

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