Belfast Telegraph

Wallace overtakes Kelleher as Ireland South count continues into fourth day

The Ireland South constituency has seen Sean Kelly become and MEP but who will join him is still undecided.

Candidate for Independents 4 Change in Ireland South Mick Wallace talks to count staff (Michelle Devane/PA)
Candidate for Independents 4 Change in Ireland South Mick Wallace talks to count staff (Michelle Devane/PA)

Independents 4 Change candidate Mick Wallace has leap-frogged Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher into second place in Ireland South.

But after a third mammoth day of counting it is still not clear who will claim the second seat in the constituency.

Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly was elected in the five-seater constituency on Tuesday afternoon after topping the poll with 119,883 votes.

The former GAA president hailed the win as “probably the greatest moment in my political career to be returned top of the poll by so many people”.

Counting at the Nemo Rangers count centre in Co Cork continued late into the evening on Tuesday without any further declarations.

It is expected to be Wednesday afternoon before another candidate reaches the quota.

Speaking after he was elected on the ninth count Mr Kelly said he was “ecstatic”.

“It’s something that I never expected, I couldn’t expect to be that high especially with three candidates from Fine Gael and I’m most grateful to everybody involved.

“I want to return to Brussels and really work hard for Ireland over the next five years,” he said.

Mr Kelly added that he would deliver for voters and make sure Ireland’s voice is heard in the European parliament.

“I’ll do like I did for the last five years…I will deliver…The European Parliament is about compromise, I’m good at that.”

Asked whether there were MEPs milking the system, he said: “There are obviously those who work, there are obviously those who don’t.

“I’m thinking particularly of the far right, the extremists like Nigel Farage and those, they aren’t renowned for working…but those of us who believe in the European Union, who want the EU to be strong and above all for Ireland to play a strong part into the future we’re going to work our butts off.”

The Kerry native, who was first elected as an MEP in 2009, topped the poll in the first count with 118,444 first preference votes, but he failed to reach the quota of 119,866.

It was the ninth count before he surpassed the quota by 17 votes to take the seat.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted his congratulations to Mr Kelly on becoming the first over the line in the 12-county constituency.

Wexford TD Mick Wallace overtook Cork North Central TD Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher to take the second place after the 12th count on Tuesday evening.

Outgoing Sinn Fein MEP Liadh Ni Riada is on course to take fourth place, while the Greens’ Grace O’Sullivan continues to perform well coming in in fifth place.

Counting began on Sunday with 23 candidates on the two-foot long ballot paper.

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Senator Paudie Coffey (right) talks with Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly (Michelle Devane/PA)

The sheer size and volume of the ballot papers have delayed progress at the count centre, some 200 staff are grappling with 750,000 ballot papers, weighing 7.5 tonnes.

It is a worrying time for the Green party senator Ms O’Sullivan, incumbent Fine Gael MEP Ms Clune and sitting Sinn Fein MEP Ms Ni Riada.

The three women are likely going to battle it out for the fourth and fifth seats in the constituency.

Fianna Fail’s second candidate Mr Byrne and Fine Gael’s third candidate in the running, junior minister Andrew Doyle, will be hoping transfers will see them overtake other candidates to claim a seat.

Ireland South, which has an electorate of 1.4 million, had a total poll of 755,000 votes.

The latest indications are it may take until Thursday afternoon before all five seats are allocated.

PA

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