Former Rose of Tralee gets 6,000-vote boost from running mate's transfers as Saoirse McHugh's Green hopes dwindle
Fierce battle to ensue in Midlands-North-West for final three seats
FORMER Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh has received a more than 6,000-vote boost from the transfer of her Fine Gael running mate Mairead McGuinness's transfers.
Ms Walsh's vote in Midlands-North-West now stands at 70,536 after the second count having picked up 6,036 votes.
She still trails Independent Luke 'Ming' Flanagan - who is now on 86,906 having gained 1,872 votes - and Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy on 78,487, up 868.
Ex-Presidential candidate Peter Casey is on 57,848, up 1,198 votes.
The Green Party's Saoirse McHugh is now on 52,731, having picked up 1,712 of Ms McGuinness's transfers.
The quota in the constituency is 118,986.
Ms McGuinness topped the poll and was elected on the first count with 134,630 votes.
Mr Flanagan is looking safer now to retain his European Parliament seat.
Ms Walsh has been tipped to join Ms McGuinness in Brussels and there is a battle between her, Mr Carthy, Mr Casey and Ms McHugh for the other two seats.
Fianna Fáil's Brendan Smith and Anne Rabbitte are trailing badly.
Mr Smith is on 44,040 and Ms Rabbitte has 31,084.
Independent Diarmuid Mulcahy has been eliminated.
This comes hours after Ms McGuinness secured her seat on the first count in the four-seat Midlands-North-West constituency.
The former TV presenter and high profile MEP will return to Brussels where she has been a prominent voice in the Brexit debate.
There will be a fierce battle for the other three seats.
Mairead McGuinness was elected with more than 15,000 votes to spare.
Ms McHugh had been strongly tipped to take a seat after the RTÉ/TG4/RedC exit poll put her at 12pc.
However it overestimated her support.
In the end her first preference vote was just over 8pc.
The margin of error was 4pc in the exit poll.
The Green candidate came to national prominence after a strong performance on a TV debate marked by her clashes with Mr Casey.
After the first count she trails Mr Casey by around 5,600 votes.
Reacting to her re-election, Ms McGuinness said she is “delighted, relieved and a bit tired.”
She said her running mate Maria Walsh has done really well and she’s quietly confident Fine Gael will take two seats in the constituency.