Two MEPs lose seats as Fianna Fáil eyes gains

Two Meps Lose Seats As Fianna Fáil Eyes Gains
European and local elections, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Cillian Sherlock and Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Fianna Fáil has retained its seats in the European Parliament, as a fifth day of counting also saw two MEPs lose their place.

Sinn Féin representative Chris MacManus was eliminated from the running in Midlands-North-West as the party claimed his running mate had a “fighting chance” of reclaiming the seat, while the Green Party's Grace O’Sullivan was excluded from the running in Ireland South.


Both had sat as MEPs in the Left grouping within the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, in Ireland South, Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher was re-elected as an MEP, calling it a “crowning” moment.

He celebrated with his family, colleagues and Tánaiste Micheál Martin, who said the party was hopeful of clinching a second seat in the South constituency.

Occurring after the re-election of Barry Andrews in Dublin, it means Fianna Fáil has held on to its two seats in Europe with the possibility of claiming two more.


The lengthy counting of ballot papers continues in Ireland, with eight MEPs left to be elected in two massive constituencies.

Voters headed to the polls last Friday to pick 949 local councillors, 14 members of the European Parliament and the country’s first directly elected mayor.

Sean Kelly celebrates with friends, family and supporters after becoming the first MEP to be elected in Ireland’s European elections
Seán Kelly celebrates with friends, family and supporters after becoming the first MEP to be elected in Ireland’s European elections (Jonathan Brady/PA)


Results emerging from the three elections have been seen as a political boon for coalition partners Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, while the largest opposition party, Sinn Féin, has initiated a review after performing well below its own expectations.

In the European elections, Sinn Féin is expected to increase its tally of MEPs, despite Mr MacManus being eliminated from the running on Thursday morning.

Sinn Fein's Chris MacManus speaks to the media at TF Royal Theatre in Castlebar
Sinn Féin’s Chris MacManus was eliminated from the running on Thursday morning (Cillian Sherlock/PA)


Marathon counts restarted in the Ireland South and Midlands-North-West constituencies at 9am on Thursday.

Unpredictable transfers, which political commentators said were not following traditional patterns, are adding to the drama of who will claim the final seats.

In Ireland South, Fine Gael’s Seán Kelly was deemed elected after the first count on Monday – but it has taken days to fill the other positions.

Billy Kelleher speaks to a member of An Garda Siochana as he awaits election count results
Billy Kelleher speaks to a member of An Garda Síochána as he awaits count results (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion has remained in a good position to take a seat after attracting 60 per cent of her running mate’s transfers on Wednesday, as well as transfers from the Social Democrats’ Susan Doyle.

Independent TD Michael McNamara is also in a good position to take a seat.

A close-up of Mick Wallace
Outgoing MEP Mick Wallace (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Fianna Fáil candidate and 1994 Eurovision host Cynthia Ní Mhurchú and outgoing MEP Mick Wallace are battling it out for the final seat, which are to be decided by the distribution of Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan’s votes, who is expected to be eliminated next.

Ms O’Sullivan voiced her concerns about Ireland’s representation in the European Parliament on climate issues without any Green MEP – after her party colleagues were eliminated in the other constituencies, including Ciarán Cuffe who failed to retain his seat in Dublin.

Sinn Fein candidate Kathleen Funchion in the count centre
Sinn Féin candidate Kathleen Funchion in the count centre (Brian Lawless/PA)

Calling her comments “the swan song”, she said it was up to Government parties to speak up on the need for action to tackle climate change.

Returning officer Martin Harvey said he expects the final results in Ireland South by Thursday.

In Midlands-North-West, Mr MacManus became the third of four MEPs to lose their seat.

Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan speaking at the TF Royal Theatre count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo
Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan speaking at the TF Royal Theatre count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo (Niall Carson/PA)

The constituency’s pack leader is left-wing independent Luke “Ming” Flanagan, who is almost certain to reach the quota and be re-elected.

He quickly emerged as the front runner in the field of 27 candidates, and after 18 counts, remained ahead of the next three candidates who are in a tight grouping.

They are former jockey Nina Carberry and incumbent MEP Maria Walsh, both Fine Gael candidates, as as well as Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen.

Michelle Gildernew from Sinn Fein listens to the results at TF Royal Theatre in Castlebar
Michelle Gildernew from Sinn Féin listens to the results at the TF Royal Theatre (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Féin insists it still has a “fighting chance” for that final spot against Independent Ireland candidate and former RTÉ correspondent Ciaran Mullooly.

Its leading hopeful, Michelle Gildernew, picked up 20,000 transfers from Mr MacManus to close the gap to Mr Mullooly.

Observers predict the counting will wrap up on Thursday night or Friday morning.

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

Fianna Fail candidate Barry Andrews at the RDS count centre
Fianna Fáil candidate Barry Andrews was elected at the RDS count centre (Gareth Chaney/PA)

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 on the continent.

The count saw the elimination of Mr Cuffe and independent incumbent Clare Daly.

While the European picture is incomplete, Fianna Fáil emerged as the largest party in local government after all seats in Ireland’s local election were filled.

The party won out in the battle for the remaining seats, putting them on a total of 248 seats compared with Fine Gael’s 245.

In the local elections, both main Government parties attracted around 23 per cent of first preference votes, representing a slight drop on their 2019 result.

Lynn Boylan is carried aloft by a crowd with her hands in the air
Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan was elected in Dublin (Gareth Chaney/PA)

Sinn Féin has 102 councillors, an increase on 81 council seats won in 2019, but party leader Mary Lou McDonald has admitted the result fell below their expectations.

The popular vote of 12 per cent is a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the main opposition party which emerged from the 2020 general election on 24.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party is down one to 56 councillors, the Green Party’s support fell to 26 council seats while the Social Democrats’ share rose to 35.

The number of Independent councillors has also increased.

The results have fuelled speculation that the Government may look to call a general election earlier than the current projected timeline of spring 2025.

Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Simon Harris with Regina Doherty and a crowd of people
Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Simon Harris with Regina Doherty (Gareth Chaney/PA)

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

For her part, Sinn Féin leader Ms McDonald, who is 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 Ríordain 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.

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.

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

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