Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson has been deemed elected to the European Parliament after topping the poll in the North on the first count.
The announcement that she received 159,813 votes, ahead of the two unionist sitting MEPs and the quota of 156,532, was greeted with delight by a senior Sinn Fein contingent which included party leader Gerry Adams.
Adams was also greeted with cheers by Sinn Fein’s team after he triumphantly arrived at the count centre following an outstanding set of elections for the party. The success also came in the aftermath of his hugely controversial 96-hour interrogation by the PSNI police earlier this month.
The result of the European election across the 32 Counties gave Sinn Fein a total of 483,113 votes across the island of Ireland -- a result which party activists pointed out exceeds that received by the original Sinn Fein party in the famous 1918 election, which led to the First Dail. The party, now unquestionably the largest in Ireland, also elected at least 157 councillors in the 26 Counties, a trebling of its representation at local level there, as well as 105 councillors in the Six Counties.
Eight other candidates are still in the battle for the North’s remaining two seats in the European Parliament, with the DUP’s Diane Dodds set to fill the second seat shortly.
The third is expected to fall to Jim Nicholson of the UUP, according to the transfers of second and lower preferences. The hardline unionist TUV and the nationalist SDLP are also claiming to still have a chance of success.
The turnout has already been established at 51.8%, with spoiled votes amounting to 1.6%. The poll took place last Thursday, at the same time as the North’s local government election. The results of that vote were published on Friday and Saturday.
In Britain, where counting was also taking place today, the hardline unionist UKIP topped the European polls. The party has returned 24 MEPs, Labour is next with 20 MEPs, while the Tories were third with 19 seats.
MING WINS BIG
Meanwhile, the shockwaves of the local and European election results are continuing in the 26 Counties.
In Midlands-North-West, left-wing Roscommon TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan won a celebrated victory this evening to be the first elected to Europe from the constituency. Flanagan had bitterly complained of the hostile treatment by the mainstream media in Dublin, including a refusal to allow him take part in a televised debate among leading candidates.
“We have been quiet for too long, we have been lied to for too long,” he said.
“Now the government has been told definitively that the people of Ireland are sick and tired of being told what to do by Europe,” he told reporters. Men and women didn’t die for Ireland in the 1916 Rising “so we could hand it all away and bend the knee.”
In the next few hours, Sinn Fein’s Liada Ni Riada and Matt Carthy are expected to be confirmed as having won election in the South and Midlands-North-West constituencies respectively.
Earlier today, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore was forced to step down after his party received a humiliating 5% of the vote in the European elections.
With uncertainty hanging over his coalition government in Dublin, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny thanked Gilmore for his “outstanding service to the country as Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs”.
“Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party have been courageous in making the collective decisions that have pulled Ireland back from the brink of economic collapse and put the country on the path towards recovery,” he said.
Gerry Adams said it had been “a difficult day” for Mr Gilmore and his family. “However, this is not about personalities, it’s about policies. Quite clearly the voters have rejected the policies of this government.
“They have rejected the brutal agenda of relentless austerity, taking medical cards from sick children, water taxes and cuts to the most vulnerable.
“What is required is a change of political direction and a change of government.”
SIX COUNTIES EURO ELECTION - FIRST COUNT
Martina Anderson (SF) 159,813 Elected 1st count
Diane Dodds (DUP) 131,163
Jim Nicholson (UUP) 83,438
Alex Attwood (SDLP) 81,594
Jim Allister (TUV) 75,806
Anna Lo (Alliance) 44,432
Henry Reilly (UKIP) 24,584
Ross Brown (Green) 10,598
Tina McKenzie (NI21) 10,553
Mark Brotherston (Tory) 4,144 Eliminated 1st count