South tallies confirm strong showing for Crowley
By Catherine Shanahan
All the predictions of a poll-topping performance by Fianna Fáil MEP candidate Brian Crowley are coming to pass at the Ireland South count centre in Nemo Rangers GAA club, outside Cork city.
Master tallyman Frank Connelly, who has practised the fine art of precision vote counting since the East Galway by-election of 1964, put Crowley's vote at 27.4%, based on the counting of 13,500 votes by around 3pm today.
Sinn Féin candidate Liadh Ni Riada is at 19.43% and as it stands, and has a good chance of taking the second seat on the first count.
Fine Gael candidate, former GAA president Sean Kelly, is at 12.53%, well ahead of party colleague Deirdre Clune on 7.1% and Simon Harris on 6.08%.
Sadhbh O'Flynn, daughter of Independent candidate Diarmuid O'Flynn, has been scrutinising voting patterns but has seen little evidence of any strong vote along party lines when it comes to the three Fine Gael candidates - possibly the result of a rather bad-tempered campaign with claims and counter claims that candidates were trespassing into each others territory.
Ms O'Flynn said she had noted what she categorised as a "GAA vote" where voters were giving Kelly their number one and O'Flynn their number two.
Mr O'Flynn is a GAA sports writer with the Irish Examiner. He is currently polling at 5.45%.
In relation to Ms Clune, she appeared to be benefitting from a "Cork vote", with both herself and O'Flynn appearing as No.1 and 2 on a significant number of ballot sheets.
There also appeared to be a "feminist" vote, according to Ms O'Flynn, with voters giving Clune, Independent business woman Jillian Godsil and Liadh Ni Riada their numbers one, two and three, with the rest of the ballot sheet left blank.
In fact, there was a distinct trend towards giving a single vote - many ballot sheets were simply marked with a number one.
This was evident in the case of Grace O'Sullivan, Green Party candidate, who is currently polling at 4.7%.
There was no big vote along party lines in relation to Crowley and his running mate Kieran Hartley. Hartley stands at 5.02%.
Labour candidate Phil Prendergast is at 4.2%. Catholic Democrat Theresa Heaney is on 2.2%