Belfast Telegraph

Only one MEP elected in the Republic as second day of counting gets under way

Mairead McGuinness claimed the prize for Fine Gael.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) with Fine Gael candidate Frances Fitzgerald and Fine Gael’s Alan Farrell (second right) at the count centre in the RDS, Dublin (PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) with Fine Gael candidate Frances Fitzgerald and Fine Gael’s Alan Farrell (second right) at the count centre in the RDS, Dublin (PA)

The first seat in the European elections in the Republic of Ireland has been filled by Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness.

The incumbent MEP topped the poll with 134,630 first-preference votes and was re-elected in the Midlands Northwest constituency.

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

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

On the second day of counting, Ms McGuinness remains the only MEP elected in the Republic.

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.

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

In the Dublin constituency the Green Party’s Ciaran Cuffe topped the poll with 63,849 votes. He is expected to be elected later today.

The voting system, single transferable vote, in the European election means counting could run on until Wednesday.

The first day of counting saw a major surge in support for the Green Party with candidates expected to take seats in all three constituencies.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he is confident his party will take three seats adding he was “on the hunt” for two more.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein is facing challenging results in Ireland in both the European and local elections with huge losses in several councils.

Irish voters will elect 13 MEPs, however two will face an uncertain wait over when they can take their seats due to the Brexit delay.

The Republic will receive two of Britain’s 27 seats when it leaves the EU. They are being redistributed among 14 member states.

The UK is participating in the poll, with British MEPs set to attend the inaugural plenary session of the new parliament on July 2.

As a result, those elected in last place in Ireland’s Dublin and South constituencies must wait to see when they can take their seats.

Local council elections were also held across Ireland on Friday, and counting in those races is continuing on Monday.

Meanwhile, a landslide Yes vote to liberalise Ireland’s divorce laws was confirmed in the early hours of Sunday.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan is now set to bring forward a Bill to amend Section 5 of the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 to reduce the minimum living apart period to two years during the previous three years.

The European election count for Ireland’s three constituencies – Dublin, South, and Midlands-North-West – started on Sunday morning at centres in Dublin, Cork and Castlebar, Co Mayo.

A Europe-wide embargo meant the first results in the poll could not be declared until 10pm.

The European and local government elections are the first electoral test for Ireland’s main parties since the inconclusive general election of 2016.

The result delivered a hung parliament and precipitated months of negotiations between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, two parties with a century-old enmity dating back to Ireland’s Civil War.

A historic accord emerged that saw Fianna Fail agree to support a minority Fine Gael-led government through a confidence and supply deal for three years.

The parties renewed that arrangement late last year, extending what has been dubbed an era of “new politics” until early 2020.

While Friday’s elections focused on European and council issues, the results will no doubt be interpreted as a public judgment on Fine Gael’s performance in government and how effectively Fianna Fail has managed the delicate balancing act of holding an administration to account while at the same time propping it up.

PA

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