Carthy returned in election count drama

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Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy has been elected to the European Parliament in the last count in Midlands/North/West (MNW) tonight, although the party faces a recount to hold on to Liadh Ní Riada’s seat in Ireland South.

A full recheck and recount has been ordered at the GAA club in the south side of Cork city after just 327 votes separated Ms Ni Riada from Green Party candidate Grace O’Sullivan.

The outcome came as no surprise as the election continued to get tighter with each count of transfers under Ireland’s Single Transferable Vote system.

Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher was elected on the 17th count, leaving Mick Wallace of Independents 4 Change, Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune, Ms O’Sullivan and Ms Ní Riada in a four-way battle for the last three seats.

With Mick Wallace moving clear, the final three-way battle became increasingly dramatic in an agitated crowd in the Nemo Rangers GAA centre, with political leaders from all the main parties present.

A new element to the drama was the question of who wins the fifth seat, which has a lower value as it only becomes active after Britain leaves the European Union.

Sitting Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune was thrown a lifeline in the 16th count when she received a massive 20,000 votes from the distribution of her running mate Andrew Doyle’s and Labour’s Sheila Nunan’s papers, just over a quarter of the available transfers, pushing her into third.

The gap between the Sinn Fein and the Green candidates subsequently narrowed to the point where a recount appeared inevitable.

However, Matt Carthy’s undoubted success provided a badly needed boost for Sinn Fein in the 26 Counties. Mr Carthy was hoisted on shoulders amid waving tricolour flags in Castlebar’s Royal Theatre.

“We are absolutely delighted for Matt and for the team,” said Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty, who cheered on his colleague.

“It is a great victory here, a great vote that came out and picking up transfers right across the board,” he said. “It is a testament to Matt Carthy, as a person, as an MEP, and the work that he has done over the last five years.

“It is also a testament that the people have heard the Sinn Fein message. Yes, we want more people to hear it, yes we need to deliver that message clearer, we need to win more votes in the future elections, but this is a great victory today. Matt Carthy has been returned with Martina Anderson back to the European Parliament.”

Mr Carthy said: “Thanks a million to all those who trusted me with their first preference or subsequent preference because it went down to the wire.

“I am really grateful, I won’t let you down. You have a Sinn Fein team that will work really hard.

“While we’re disappointed that Lynn Boylan didn’t make it and we’re unsure even at this stage how Liadh Ní Riada is going to do, both of those fantastic representatives will be back.

“But Sinn Fein’s work starts again tomorrow. We are going to continue to advocate for a better Ireland, a fairer Ireland, a united Ireland in a radically reformed EU. So we’re going to have a little bit of a brak but its back to work tomorrow”

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald described Mr Carthy’s re-election as “a great result” for the party. “Onwards and upwards”, she wrote.

Meanwhile, all 949 seats have been filled in the local elections, after Longford County Council finally declaring results after four days of counting.

The following is the final total of council seats held by the main parties:

FF 279 (+12)
FG 255 (+20)
SF 81 (-78)
Labour 57 (+6)
Greens 49 (+37)
SocDem 19 (new)
S-PBP 11 (-17)
Aontú 3 (new)
Renua 1 (new)
WP 1 (nc)
Others 3 (-1)
Independents 190 (-3)

A final and complete breakdown by local council is available by clicking here.

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