Monday 21 October 2019

Andrews faces Brexit wait before taking seat in Brussels

Eliminated: Lynn Boylan with Mary Lou McDonald (left). Picture: PA
Eliminated: Lynn Boylan with Mary Lou McDonald (left). Picture: PA
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

A Brexit limbo means new Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews faces a wait before he can take up his seat in the European Parliament after he was elected yesterday.

Clare Daly said she was "gob-smacked" at the level of support she received to take one of the three automatic parliament seats for Dublin. Mr Andrews will take the capital's fourth seat only when Britain leaves the EU.

Both were elected yesterday after counting went into a third day following a legal tussle over the allocation of votes to avoid the so-called "cold storage" seat.

It came after a huge collapse in Sinn Féin's support, with outgoing MEP Lynn Boylan eliminated after securing less than half the share of first preferences secured in 2014.

However, her transfers proved crucial to Clare Daly who won the direct flight to Brussels alongside the Green Party's Ciarán Cuffe and former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

Ms Daly vowed to use her voice in Brussels in the same way she said she has used it in Leinster House since becoming a TD.

"I have been gob-smacked at the warm reception I have received from every corner of this city in recognition of this work I have tried to do over the past number of years," she said after counting concluded in the RDS yesterday.

"I want to assure those people who are hurting and let down badly by our political system that I intend to use the voice in Europe as I have used the voice in Dublin Fingal to be an advocate, a speaker for change and to rattle the cages of those in authority."

The new MEPs will take up their seats in July, with Ms Daly and Ms Fitzgerald triggering the calling of by-elections within six months of the date they leave their Dáil seats.

For Mr Andrews, the date he will be able to take up his seat is less clear because of Brexit.

"I understand there are more than 50 MEPs in the same position," he said.

"It is completely unprecedented and naturally the European Commission is going to have to make some kind of decision on what the status of the people in those positions might be pending the outcome of Brexit."

He is happy to be Fianna Fáíl's first Dublin MEP for 15 years, he added.

"I am delighted to get the endorsement of the people of Dublin so I don't buy the narrative around half-elected or half a foot in the door. I have been elected.

"The arrangements will be made to make sure that will be fulfilled in due course so, on a personal level, I will figure out what to do in the meantime but I will be serving the people of Dublin as their MEP."

Counting at the RDS in Dublin went into a third day yesterday after a period of confusion and legal argument over whether Lynn Boylan's votes should be transferred once she was eliminated.

Ms Boylan secured 10.8pc of the vote, down from the 23.6pc share she had in 2014. But Fianna Fáil and Ms Daly felt her transfers would play a role in determining who got the automatic third seat.

Normally, transfers from the final elimination do not come into play as the remaining candidates are deemed elected, but returning officer Fergus Gallagher decided he would allow Ms Boylan's votes to be transferred after a morning of intense discussion.

"What I really wanted was that the mandate of the Dublin electorate was respected," Ms Daly said afterwards.

Mr Andrews said the confusion that overshadowed the count showed "that it wouldn't be overtime to bring in an electoral commission".

Irish Independent

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