Tuesday 18 June 2019

McGuinness ‘taking nothing for granted’ as she tops exit poll in constituency

She was speaking at the count centre in Castlebar.

Mairead McGuinness looks likely to top the poll in the hotly contested Midlands North West seats (Niall Carson/PA)
Mairead McGuinness looks likely to top the poll in the hotly contested Midlands North West seats (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, Press Association

Sitting MEP Mairead McGuinness looks likely to top the poll in the hotly contested Midlands North West seats.

Ms McGuinness said she hopes that if she is successful, transfers will go to her running mate, former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh, for the second seat.

“I’m a cautious person and I take nothing for granted,” Ms McGuinness said on Sunday evening at the count centre in Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

“I got a strong cross party vote in my view, as people have said to me that they’re not Fine Gael voters but they like what I do.

“If I get through on first count, I’ll be relieved, it’s a bit surreal as well when you hear it.

“What they’re saying here about transfers is that 40% will go to Maria, I’d be happy with that. Obviously I would like it to be 100% but that’s not how politics works.”

When asked about how she felt about the possibility of heading back to Brussels to “hang around” with Nigel Farage, Ms McGuinness said she would rather “eat razor blades” than work with the Brexit Party leader.

The RTE/TG4 poll indicates the sitting MEP should retain her seat with the quota likely to be around 20%.

If Fine Gael are successful for the first two seats, the battle for the other two seats will come down to a fight between Independent MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh, Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy and Independent Peter Casey.

Mr Carthy polled at 15% with Ms McHugh 12% ahead of incumbent Independent Mr Flannagan at 10%.

Ms Walsh polled at 10% but could overtake Mr Flanagan when Ms McGuinness has her transfers distributed.

Ms McHugh has become an unexpected contender for the seat, following a much-praised TV debate appearance, and the “Green wave” of new support for Green Party candidates, with commentators speculating that the electorate has put climate change as a top priority in this election.

Ms McHugh has said in a number of interviews that she would be prepared to leave the Green Party should they ever go into coalition with Fine Gael or Fianna Fail.

Fianna Fail have polled poorly in the constituency, with candidates Brendan Smith and Anne Rabbitte on 9% of the exit poll vote between them.

The party lost the seat in the 2014 election after Pat “The Cope” Gallagher failed to be re-elected after two terms at the European Parliament.

Electoral officers say they are expecting the first count to be declared in Castlebar on Monday afternoon.

The constituency covers counties Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, Westmeath and Galway city.

The count at the Castlebar count centre ended without any declarations made at 10pm.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section