Counting continues as Government mulls by-elections conundrum

Counting Continues As Government Mulls By-Elections Conundrum
Sinn Fein candidate Lynn Boylan celebrates after being elected MEP for the Dublin constituency, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By David Young, Grainne Ni Aodha, Cillian Sherlock and Cate McCurry, PA

Counting is continuing in the European elections in Ireland, with the final results potentially still days away.

Nine of the country’s 14 MEPs have yet to be confirmed, with counting completed in only one of the three constituencies.


On Tuesday night, the four MEPs who will represent Dublin in the European Parliament were elected at the end of the three days of counting.


Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty, Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews, Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan and Labour’s Aodhan Ó Ríordáin all confirmed their places in Brussels.

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Simon Harris, Tánaiste and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald and Labour leader Ivana Bacik were all in attendance to congratulate their candidates amid celebratory scenes at the RDS count centre.

The four winning candidates were all elected when Independent Ireland candidate Niall Boylan became the last to be eliminated in the closely fought contest.

Only one other MEP has so far been elected in Ireland – Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly in Ireland South.


European and local elections
European Fianna Fáil candidate Barry Andrews celebrates his election (Gareth Chaney/PA)

That count, and the count in the Midlands-North-West constituency, could extend for several more days before reaching conclusion.

In Ireland’s local elections battle, Fianna Fáil edged just ahead of Fine Gael on Tuesday evening with 246 seats to 245, with only a handful of 949 seats left to declare.


In a landmark poll in Limerick for Ireland’s first directly-elected mayor, independent candidate John Moran secured victory late on Tuesday afternoon.

Results emerging from the three elections, which were held last Friday, have provided a political fillip for coalition partners Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, while Sinn Féin has initiated a review after performing well below the party’s own expectations.

European and local elections
European Labour candidate Aodhan Ó Ríordáin TD celebrates with party leader Ivana Bacik (right) and senator Marie Sherlock (Gareth Chaney/PA)


Both main Government parties attracted around 23 per cent of first preference votes, while Sinn Féin trailed in on 12 per cent – a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the main opposition party which emerged from the 2020 general election winning the popular vote on 24.5 per cent.

While the European picture is still incomplete, the election results to date have fuelled speculation that the coalition may look to call a general election earlier than the current projected timeline of spring 2025.

However, the leaders of all three coalition parties – Mr Harris, Mr Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan – have all insisted they remain committed to the current government going full term.

For her part, Sinn Féin leader Ms McDonald, who is now facing questions over her stewardship of the party, has struck a defiant tone, urging Mr Harris to “bring it on” and call an early election.

With Mr Ó Riordain a sitting TD, and other TDs in contention for the remaining European seats, there will be a need for at least one by-election in the coming six months.

European and local elections
Candidate Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan leads the way in the Midlands-North-West constituency (Niall Carson/PA).

That has added to speculation that the Government may seek an earlier general election, rather than fighting several potential by-elections only months before the Dáil is dissolved.

In the Ireland South constituency, Fine Gael’s Mr Kelly became the first MEP elected in Ireland, taking the first of five seats on Monday night.

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher is in place to take the second seat, but the final three seats are considered too close to call.

Independent TD Michael McNamara and Fianna Fáil candidate and 1994 Eurovision host Cynthia Ni Mhurchu are well placed.

Outgoing MEP Mick Wallace, Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion and the Green Party’s Grace O’Sullivan also look to be in the race for a seat.

European and local elections
John Moran has been elected as Limerick’s first directly-elected mayor (Niall Carson/PA)

The returning officer expects the count in Cork to extend into Thursday.

The Midlands-North-West constituency saw the first count conclude late on Monday night, as officials grappled with the arduous process of whittling down 27 candidates vying for five seats.

Independent incumbent MEP Luke “Ming” Flanagan emerged as the frontrunner after topping the poll.

He was still leading the pack when counting ended on Tuesday. Next was Fine Gael’s first-time candidate and former jockey Nina Carberry, who was narrowly ahead of Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen.

If the race stays as it currently stands, Maria Walsh will also be returning to Strasbourg as an MEP for Fine Gael in the fourth seat.

Independent Ireland candidate and former RTÉ correspondent Ciaran Mullooly is favourite for the fifth and final seat, meaning Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, who was her party’s main hope of retaining a seat in the constituency, may miss out if she does not receive favourable transfers.

Candidates have predicted the count in Castlebar could go on for several days before the results are confirmed.

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