Marian Harkin last MEP in Europe to be elected on fifth day
Published 29/05/2014 | 06:31
Independent Marian Harkin has finally secured the country’s last seat in Europe after a lengthy battle which saw counts enter a fifth day.
She narrowly edged out her former colleague and one of Ireland’s longest serving MEP’s Fianna Fail’s Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher.
For close to 16 hours count staff carried out a recheck of votes for the Midlands North West constituency which ran into the early hours of this morning. It had begun early yesterday after the eighth count saw just 275 votes separating Harkin from fellow sitting MEP Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher. However, it was called off by Gallagher after no major discrepancies were found.
At 4am this morning, after half a million votes were checked, Gallagher accepted that victory was out of his grasp and conceded defeat.
Speaking after she was elected to the final seat in the constituency, Harkin thanked her former colleague for the dignified way he had called an end to the count.
“We wore the green jersey when it came to representing Ireland and if it could have been somebody else other than Pat here tonight, that is what I would have wanted,” she said.
She said she was looking forward to continuing her work in Europe adding: “It’s a real challenge and I’m ready for it but I need a week off.”
In his concession speech Gallagher urged the country’s new MEPs to work together in the interest of Ireland. He expressed criticism of the Fianna Fail strategy of running two candidates in the constituency but said he was a “party man” and had done as Fianna Fail had asked.
Gallagher stressed that he had not called for the recheck of the votes, but thanked Returning Officer Fintan Murphy for making the decison following the tight margin of just 275 votes between the final two candidates. He said that after a close review of the recheck he decided not to call for a full recount, adding: “I’m a realist.”
Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher was first elected as an MEP in 1994 and held the seat until his return to domestic politics in 2002. He served as Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government between 2002 and 2004 before being asked to run for Europe once again in 2009.
Mr Murphy thanked Gallagher for his long service as both a TD and MEP.
The elected candidates were formally declared early this morning, with Independents Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Marian Harkin, Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness and Sinn Fein’s Matt Carthy all heading to Brussels to represent the Midlands North West constituency.