Tension builds as European election count resumes

A second day of counting in the European election gets under way today with a former minister awaiting a recount in a battle for a seat.

Over the weekend, Sinn Féin emerged as the big winner in the polls after voters turned in their droves to anti-austerity candidates in European, local and by-elections.

Labour suffered the most with pressure increasing on leader Eamon Gilmore.

Talks are planned between the Foreign Affairs Minister and Taoiseach Enda Kenny later today to assess the fallout from the damaging local election results and chart a way forward for a revived Programme for Government.

In Dublin, Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan became the first of Ireland’s 11 MEPs elected as counting went on to the early hours.

Widely tipped to take a seat during the election campaign, she pulled in more than 83,000 first preference votes, widely regarded as a remarkable performance which was just shy of the quota.

But counting at the RDS was suspended until 2pm today after Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, a minister in the previous government, called for a recount of votes following the seventh count.

He was about 1,200 votes shy of taking the third and final seat with Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes and Independent Nessa Childers in line to take seats ahead of him.

Outside Dublin, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, an anti-establishment, pro-cannabis independent was on course for a seat in the Midlands-North West.

Elsewhere, Fianna Fail’s ever popoluar Brian Crowley is on course for a seat in the South where Sinn Fein’s Liadh Ni Riada could also claim another success for her party in Brussels.

Counting in both those constituencies starts again this morning but it could be as late as tomorrow before the final seats are decided.

Sinn Féin’s success comes despite the massive controversy over the arrest of party president Gerry Adams during the election campaign.

But it is the junior coalition partners Labour who are clearly bearing the brunt of the backlash for years of punishing cutbacks, with candidates losing seats nationwide.

High-profile casualties in the Labour drubbing include Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn and Lord Mayor of Cork Catherine Clancy, who failed to keep their council seats.

The Fine Gael/Labour government will now come under intense pressure to rebrand itself with focus shifting to a Cabinet reshuffle and an overhaul of its Programme for Government.

There was one rare victory for the coalition with Fine Gael retaining its seat in a by-election in Longford-Westmeath, where Gabrielle McFadden takes over from her sister Nicky who died from motor neurone disease last March.

In the other by-election, a former Labour seat in Dublin West was won by the Socialist Party’s Ruth Coppinger.

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