EURO ELECTIONS: Greens’ Grace O’Sullivan to sprout in Brussels amid final poll drama
By COLIN BARTLEY
AFTER an exhausting count lasting almost two weeks, the people of Kilkenny and Ireland South finally know who will represent them in Europe for the next five years.
Late this afternoon, the last count remaining in Europe declared Independent TD Mick Wallace elected on the 19th count. Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan was elected on the 20th count, leapfrogging Sinn Fein’s Liadh Ni Riada and sitting MEP Deirdre Clune, who will now have to be content with the so-called ‘Brexit’ seat, which she will take up whenever the UK finally gets around to leaving the EU.
The white smoke finally bellowed out of Nemo Rangers sports hall on Cork’s South Ring Road shortly before 4.30pm today – almost a full fortnight after the counting of votes began.
Independent4 Change TD Mick Wallace, from Wexford, and Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan, from Tramore, Waterford now join Fine Gael’s poll topper and former GAA President Sean Kelly and Fianna Fail’s TD Billy Kelleher.
Both Senator O’Sullivan and Deirdre Clune were deemed elected in 4th and 5th position respectively, without either reaching the quota.
In a dramatic turn of events on yesterday evening, the proposed month-long recount was sensationally culled not long after the full recount of 755,987 ballots began.
Ms Ní Riada and Sinn Féin party officials finally admitted defeat and withdrew the recount request after acknowledging no major changes to the original ballot after the first day’s recount.
The returning officer Martin Harvey ordered the full recount last Thursday at the request of Sinn Féin, amid fears the recount could take up to a month and cost the taxpayer €1 million.
With that distraction out of the way the count resumed this morning, with Deputy Wallace hoovering up the majority of Ms Ní Riada 98,379 votes, claiming 27,001 preferences, which gave him a total of 139,529 votes.
Senator O’Sullivan leapfrogged Ms Clune in the 19th count, overturning a 2,300 vote deficit to leave her 4,200 ahead in the race for a Brussels seat and just 5,500 votes short of the quota.
After the 20th count, Senator O’Sullivan remained ahead after the distribution of Mick Wallace’s surplus and was deemed elected.